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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: 292811

Reported Deaths: 6613
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19515228
Hinds18611385
Harrison16431275
Rankin12543261
Jackson12419216
Lee9641160
Madison9378194
Jones7857145
Forrest7094136
Lauderdale6760225
Lowndes5998137
Lamar581180
Lafayette5698113
Washington5135128
Bolivar4580120
Oktibbeha438691
Panola424992
Warren4101113
Pearl River4083128
Pontotoc406668
Marshall398392
Monroe3977126
Union392173
Neshoba3758166
Lincoln3447100
Hancock338673
Leflore3349118
Sunflower316685
Tate299874
Pike298293
Scott291867
Alcorn289660
Itawamba288571
Yazoo283262
Tippah275465
Copiah273957
Coahoma272666
Simpson270778
Prentiss267658
Leake251370
Wayne250540
Marion249878
Covington247178
Grenada244676
Adams232877
George229845
Newton223151
Winston220274
Tishomingo211465
Jasper211244
Attala205969
Chickasaw200550
Holmes181470
Clay177848
Stone171129
Tallahatchie169239
Clarke168271
Calhoun155527
Smith151531
Yalobusha142236
Greene126533
Walthall123340
Noxubee122629
Perry120934
Montgomery120537
Lawrence119021
Carroll117223
Amite110732
Webster109229
Jefferson Davis99931
Tunica98023
Claiborne97329
Benton92524
Humphreys91326
Kemper89422
Quitman76614
Franklin75419
Choctaw69416
Wilkinson62226
Jefferson61027
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 490220

Reported Deaths: 9744
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson704661342
Mobile35810721
Madison32203443
Tuscaloosa23961409
Montgomery22417489
Shelby21773211
Baldwin19635272
Lee14883147
Morgan13571248
Etowah13118312
Calhoun13090283
Marshall11212203
Houston10036257
Limestone9321133
Elmore9313179
Cullman8864177
St. Clair8771220
Lauderdale8570210
DeKalb8419173
Talladega7450162
Walker6492249
Jackson6466102
Autauga617285
Blount6072125
Colbert5978118
Coffee5229100
Dale4614106
Russell401431
Franklin397675
Covington3948105
Chilton383196
Escambia376670
Tallapoosa3559139
Clarke342749
Dallas3396140
Chambers3393103
Pike292771
Lawrence281284
Marion280793
Winston245665
Bibb243759
Marengo238554
Geneva238468
Pickens223554
Barbour209550
Hale208464
Fayette199356
Butler195165
Henry182341
Cherokee176338
Monroe165638
Randolph162740
Washington156233
Crenshaw143353
Clay143254
Macon140543
Cleburne136539
Lamar131632
Lowndes130148
Wilcox120825
Bullock116534
Conecuh106523
Perry105327
Sumter98231
Coosa86823
Greene86732
Choctaw54723
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