Navarro: Racists must pay the consequences

CNN political commentator Ana Navarro responds to a video of a man allegedly harassing a woman for wearing a shirt with the Puerto Rican flag, saying it was un-American.

Posted: Jul 12, 2018 4:21 AM
Updated: Jul 12, 2018 4:38 AM

I must admit it. I thought it would be a white Trump supporter, thought it had to be a white Trump supporter. That was my knee-jerk reaction to the latest example in a long, seemingly never-ending string of spasms of everyday public hate. This one involved a 91-year-old Mexican man, Rodolfo Rodriguez, who had been beaten bloody with a concrete block by a woman in Southern California, who according to a witness, was screaming at him to "Go back to your country; go back to Mexico." A week after the incident, 30-year-old Laquisha Jones was arrested in Los Angeles for the attack.

When I first heard about the story, an image of the assailant popped into my head: a middle-aged white woman wearing a MAGA hat yelling through lungs filled with gunk from years of chain smoking. But I was wrong. An eyewitness who recorded the attack said the woman was black, and that, once the man was on the ground, a group of men beat on him, too.

I thought it had to be a white Trump supporter because I remember during the 2016 election cycle when two white men in Boston bragged about beating a Hispanic homeless man in Donald Trump's honor, with Trump initially seemingly condoning it, with a quip that his supporters were just passionate people. I remember the young black woman being literally pushed out of a Trump rally and the black man sucker-punched by an older white man in a different rally and Trump saying he'd pay the legal bills for those who attacked protesters.

But the reality is that the toxic rhetoric that enables everyday hate does not discriminate by race or political persuasion; it's about an "us vs. them" mentality, and all it takes for violence to happen is for someone to believe they're a part of the "us" and it's okay to attack the "them." I don't know if Jones is a Trump supporter, given that, though there are few, the President has African-American fans. That matters less than my mistaken, automatic assumption that it had to be someone of a different tribe long before I knew the details. That's where the danger lies. Such assumptions will convince us to excuse the ugly actions of those in the "us" category while leaving us feeling comfortable demonizing those among the "them."

There have been so many ugly incidents the past couple of years, it's hard to keep up with them all. But they keep happening. Of late, in addition to the beating of Mr. Rodriguez, these hateful incidents include the harassing of Mia Irizarry in an Illinois park for the sin of wearing a sleeveless red, white and blue T-shirt with the words "Puerto Rico" on it.

Irizarry recorded the June 14 incident on her phone, saying she felt threatened, and posted the video to Facebook. "You should not be wearing that in the United States of America," Timothy G. Trybus, who would be later arrested for assault and disorderly conduct, told her.

"Are you a citizen? Are you a United States citizen?" the man continued, apparently unaware that Puerto Ricans are US citizens. In the video, Irizarry can be heard making that point.

That incident was made worse by the presence of a police officer who did not intervene, even though the man repeatedly approached and taunted Irizarry, who had to back away several times. Irizarry is audible in the video saying, "Officer, I feel entirely uncomfortable" and "I do not feel comfortable with him here, is there anything you can do?"

"Living While Black" incidents, including a recent one where a white woman called the police because a 12-year-old boy accidentally cut a few feet of grass in her yard while he was mowing another yard for his business, have become too numerous too count. And on the extreme end, when incidents of everyday hate lead to fatal or near-lethal violence, such events become so painful as to be numbing.

This is not the first time such things have happened in this country. Violence stoked by division and fear didn't begin with the political rise of Donald Trump. Hate crimes have been increasing for the past four years, which includes the end of the Obama era. In fact, things have been much worse, something we should remember to maintain a sense of perspective. There were bombings and terror incidents in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s and Timothy McVeigh's and Eric Rudolph's actions at Oklahoma City and Atlanta in the 1990s. And the country went through a century of lynchings that included burning black people alive in the public square.

Still, it feels as though we've crossed a Rubicon in which our darkest angels have been unleashed, and every day, routine actions can become life-threatening, or life-altering, events. It feels like everyday people, not just crazed or violent men, are allowing their anger to become deadly weapons. Remember, not too long ago, a man slaughtered nearly 60 people in Las Vegas -- and injured hundreds more -- without such extreme ugliness being able to hold our attention beyond the next headline.

And as the case of Rodolfo Rodriguez shows, it's not just white people or Trump supporters unleashing their anger -- though it must be noted that African-Americans remain the most-likely target of race-based crime, while Jewish Americans are the most-targeted for religious hatred. And it's not about the lack of a still ill-defined "civility" too many have begun clamoring for, and too many others have prioritized over a righteous thirst for justice (as opposed to the relative calm of the status quo). It's something we don't yet understand and don't yet know how to corral because our divisions, which have long been deep and wide, have been laid bare in recent years in a way they haven't for quite some time.

That reality will be with us for the foreseeable future. It's the product of natural growing pains of a country that is changing by the day and making people fearful in ways they've never been. But fear is neither a good reason to wantonly hurt strangers nor to blindly give into natural instincts that try to convince us that attacking others -- rather than examining ourselves -- is the best way to navigate these confusing times.

We must be better than that. We must be.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 314710

Reported Deaths: 7254
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21646260
Hinds20369416
Harrison17949309
Rankin13643278
Jackson13450246
Madison10113217
Lee9986174
Jones8384163
Forrest7689152
Lauderdale7198240
Lowndes6403148
Lamar623686
Lafayette6203119
Washington5341134
Bolivar4802132
Oktibbeha462998
Panola4596107
Pearl River4519146
Marshall4450103
Warren4393121
Pontotoc420872
Monroe4115133
Union411176
Neshoba4031176
Lincoln3969110
Hancock379586
Leflore3498125
Sunflower336290
Tate334784
Pike3327105
Scott316274
Alcorn313368
Yazoo311770
Itawamba300577
Copiah297465
Coahoma295579
Simpson295388
Tippah288768
Adams286982
Prentiss280060
Marion269380
Leake268473
Wayne262841
Grenada261587
Covington259881
George248148
Newton246862
Winston227581
Tishomingo227067
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw208057
Holmes189174
Clay185554
Stone182833
Tallahatchie178941
Clarke178080
Calhoun170932
Yalobusha164638
Smith162534
Walthall134245
Greene130633
Lawrence128724
Montgomery127142
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121829
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107133
Tunica105726
Claiborne102430
Benton100025
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83923
Quitman81116
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67531
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 539829

Reported Deaths: 11038
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson798271529
Mobile41261809
Madison35132506
Tuscaloosa25915455
Shelby25294249
Montgomery24705593
Baldwin21392310
Lee15987172
Calhoun14569319
Morgan14422280
Etowah13918353
Marshall12275225
Houston10641282
Elmore10147206
Limestone10065151
St. Clair9946245
Cullman9761194
Lauderdale9457243
DeKalb8865188
Talladega8339176
Walker7260278
Autauga7001108
Jackson6836112
Blount6771139
Colbert6320135
Coffee5578118
Dale4876113
Russell445138
Chilton4369113
Franklin426282
Covington4138118
Tallapoosa4044153
Escambia394777
Chambers3590123
Dallas3568153
Clarke351461
Marion3137101
Pike311977
Lawrence302698
Winston275773
Bibb264564
Geneva254078
Marengo249665
Pickens234862
Barbour232056
Hale223978
Butler219069
Fayette212662
Henry189643
Cherokee184645
Randolph182442
Monroe178141
Washington167739
Macon161150
Clay157157
Crenshaw153557
Cleburne149641
Lamar143236
Lowndes140553
Wilcox127430
Bullock123242
Conecuh110829
Coosa109228
Perry107826
Sumter104932
Greene92634
Choctaw61024
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Partly Cloudy
77° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 79°
Columbus
Partly Cloudy
73° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 73°
Oxford
Partly Cloudy
73° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 73°
Starkville
Partly Cloudy
73° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 73°
High pressure will continue to dominate our weather forecast for the end of the weekend. We will see our area filled with plenty of sunshine but clouds will be on the increase into the evening hours. There will be some changes for the start work week in our weather forecast as low pressure brings back some chances for showers and thunderstorms.
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