When I was growing up in the South (I am now 64), I was horrified by the fact that hateful words and violent actions were tolerated and openly sanctioned by plain folk and by those in power. What I see today, as Sarah Palin and the Tea Partiers gather around the country, is no different, and their behavior, too, though decried by some, is tolerated, modeled, and even glorified by ordinary citizens and by people with great power: the media, certain elected officials, and some of those who want to be elected in November. In my opinion, they represent the worst that this country has to offer, and I believe that in the pages of history, they will live in shame.
However, right now, they pose a threat, and it is not just symbolic. It is as real as the lynchings and burnings of the South. Thus, I say it is imperative that the powerful and the simple folk (and our neighbors and our book club members) in this country stand up to this crazed minority and say “No more!” Otherwise, there will be tragedy on the scope of Selma (et al.) or Oklahoma City. Hatred that is tolerated on a daily basis does lead to violence on a tragic scale. Let’s stop the escalation before we are all wringing our hands at the horror and trying to convince ourselves that we did not see it coming. —Sarah Hearon, Carpinteria