America: Drunk on hate, dying for love

June 22, 2016 Originally published on SFGate

From Jesus to Buddha, the Dalai Lama to MLK, the LGBT community to President Obama himself, in the face of horrendous violence, in the face of relentless stabs of blind hate, homophobia, racism, fear and death and a savage ignorance of God, the simple, but profoundly felt, call to love.

“As we come together, we will draw inspiration from heroic and selfless acts. Friends to helped friends, took care of each other and saved lives in the face of hate and violence. We’ll love one another. We will not give in to fear or turn against each other,” said a deeply somber Obama, in the wake of yet another mass shooting, the 176th this year alone and the sixth in recent history where the shooter used the AR-15 assault rifle, the same one the NRA refuses to allow to be banned, because what’s hundreds of murdered men, women and schoolchildren when it might lead to slightly more strict gun licensing laws, or restrictions on bringing a handgun to church or Walmart or college?

From ISIS to al Qaeda, from the American Family Association to the Family Research Council, from the NRA to Donald Trump to Republican members of congress, in the face of brutish violence, in the face of blind hate and moral destruction, religious extremism and the calculated poisoning of the human soul, the call to… hate even more.

“If you had guns in that room, if you had — even if you had a number of people having them strapped to their ankle or strapped to their waist, where bullets could have flown in the other direction right at him, you wouldn’t have had the same kind of a tragedy,” oozed Trump, a gleeful sneer ever at his lips, as he went on to reiterate his call for even more severe crackdowns, bigger walls, sharper intolerance, an even more racist response to Muslims – all, of course, very much to the delight of ISIS itself, even though the Orlando shooter had no real ties to any terrorist organization, even though he was an American citizen, born in Trump’s very own beloved NYC, worked for US companies, bought a house and wasn’t mentally ill, was merely another morally warped, hated-filled homophobe with NRA-blessed access to all the guns he wanted.

Not all that different than Trump’s core supporter base, really.

Can it be any more plain? ISIS loves Donald Trump, and Trump can barely contain his gratitude for ISIS. They are bizarre brethren, a closed loop of inbred hate: The more ultra-violence that can be even remotely linked to radical Islam, the more Trump’s toxic brand of moral panic can flourish. And the more Trump spouts anti-Islamic bigotry and hints at some sort of gruesome conspiracy, the more ISIS sees its vile master plan as unfolding exactly as it hopes.

This is the real world

This is the real world

Make no mistake: Trump practices the purest form of dark capitalism there is – completely bereft of heart, entirely devoid of humanity, seeing even murderous rampages as nothing short of a perfect business opportunity to further his agenda and amplify his own megalomania.

All of which means the choice, such as it is, has rarely been more stark: You either choose contraction, cruelty, more walls, the calculated savaging of the human soul, or you choose compassion, inclusion, expansion toward understanding. You cannot really have both. There is no such thing as blessing by gunfire. Real love is never armed. Guns have never been anything but instruments of pain, fear and the efficient annihilation of life. Kindness doesn’t do assault weapons. And so on.

It’s not at all murky or complex, really: You can numbly believe the world is, at its core, fueled by savagery and religious bile, the wolf ever at the door, and hence choose to add your own rage to the sickening chorus, perhaps by buying more guns and adding still more fear to the bloody pile (and Trump and ISIS will both love you for it), or you see the world as the exact opposite; full of exactly the kind of people, the kind of fearless, heart-centered intention that flooded into the Castro district in San Francisco and marched somberly to City Hall the day after the Orlando massacre, thousands of grievers, citizens, strangers of every shape and sexual orientation and belief system, rallying, crying, hugging and unifying around one central theme: shared humanity. Life.

The good news, as such, is the same as it’s always been: There are far more – hundreds of millions more – of the latter than the former. Love and unity are, and will always be, far more potent and central to human nature than hate.

But hate makes the headlines. Hate tears and screams and spits its orange-faced rage into the megaphone, desperate for attention. It is the foremost language and dominant ethos of the current Republican candidate for president, a pitilessly opportunistic charlatan who traffics in the lowest, ugliest form of moral currency known to man. It’s pure poison, masquerading – in a very dumb hat – as moral outrage.

Which is to say: Maybe America really isn’t at some terrible, ignoble crossroads after all. Despite Trump’s nasty success at molesting the already self-molesting US election system, maybe we’re not really on a potentially cataclysmic cusp of becoming a gnarled authoritarian cesspool, our dignity forever humiliated. It’s simply not the nature of humanity, the natural bend of justice.

After all, most of America, in the face of hate and pain, rallied, fought and lit up for love. What finer choice could there possibly be?

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Mark Morford

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