by Dr. T
Often when we find ourselves disagreeing, nurse the cliché that is thrown out to cut the argument short is “We will just have to agree to disagree!” For some disagreements, that may be a perfectly acceptable response or remedy to the impasse or barrier that cannot be overcome. However, there may be some things that are so deplorable, so objectionable that there is no room for that cliché. In fact to acquiesce and concede, in that case, would make you complicit to, and even responsible for the very thing you found so objectionable in the first place. Which then reduces your opposition to just another “difference of opinion” without consequence. There are some things that are just too deplorable for that, and the consequences are just too serious.
To determine someone’s worth, ability or potential based upon race, sexual orientation, gender, religion, ethnicity or national origin is literally the textbook definition of racism, sexism, and a myriad of phobias such as xenophobia, homophobia and Islamaphobia just to name a few. On this we cannot “agree to disagree.” If you want to say that life in the country is better than life in the city or fish is better than chicken, those are things upon which we can certainly have opposing and contrary viewpoints, tastes, opinions and no one is harmed. However, when what we are discussing effectively changes the quality of life or the ability to live life as free and equal human beings for entire communities, racial groups and others based on religious affiliation or gender identity, well then we can no longer reduce our discussion down to agreeing to disagree. That very response becomes intensely offensive in a dismissive kind of way. It is a trite cliché’ generally used by people who do not want to acknowledge their own prejudice, bigotry or ignorance, when it is applied to the discussion of issues surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion as compared to nationalism, privilege and supremacist ideology.
The historic legacy of enslavement, ethnic prejudice, oppression of women, religious persecution and institutionalized injustice upon which the United States of America was founded continues to be the legacy we consistently bump up against as we struggle to realize the promise that America’s declaration makes. As a nation, we have never really openly faced the inequality and the “two” Americas that persist and continue to undermine the hopes and dreams of the country we truly want to be. We MUST look in a mirror and face ourselves as a nation. We need to see ourselves as who we are NOW and continually challenge ourselves to work towards who we want to BECOME. We are called to be great; One Nation made from many nations with Liberty and Justice for its entire people.
When we have national leaders and public officials using rhetoric that diminishes people because of race, ethnicity, gender, and national origin and encourages groups who are avowed white supremacists, anti-Semites and fear mongers to proclaim their hatred as though it was welcomed, we have crossed over into a despicable place and have legitimized deplorable behavior. Rampant racial hatred and fear mongering tore this nation asunder several decades ago. It filled the streets and countryside with innocent blood and defiled the dignity of bonafide citizens in search of their God-Given liberty and freedom. There was a time when photographs of lynchings and lynch mobs were printed in the newspapers and media sources. It was disgraceful and those who promoted it, encouraged it and were silent about it were complicit and, I dare say, just as deplorable as those whose hands performed the outrageous acts themselves. Today we are not far from those days and those times. America has not come as far as we think we have! There is NO room for us to “agree to disagree”… some things are just too DEPLORABLE!