Saturday, May 28, 2011

Pima & Swan - The Shooting of Gabrielle Giffords and Today's Frightening Political Atmosphere

The Shooting of Gabrielle Giffords and
Today's Frightening Political Atmosphere

This is the text message that shook me, one sad weekend morning, from a lengthy bout of bed-ridden depression. I looked at my phone’s screen, balled up my fist, and leapt to see the news, assuming what so many of us did: a Teabagger took her life.
My boyfriend and I felt the world crushing us one small inch more, after having endured those losses of the previous election. We went to Giffords’ main office to light candles and join others in grieving, for her life as well as for what we felt was the civility of the nation. It was there we learned from a reporter that she had not been killed. She was in critical condition. Our prayers turned to hopes for her recovery.
The office lies on Swan Road. Swan runs north and south down central Tucson from the Catalina Mountains. One mile away from where I live, it crosses a smaller street known as Pima. Walking distance from where I lay my head at night, this crossroads was for days covered with a sea candles, cards, and many signs of sadness over the shooting tragedy that shook our country—a beautiful display of diversity that, sadly, represents the political climate that has born this brutality.

Continued behind the jump...

         Two years before the shooting I was living east of Atlanta, in a small town called Conyers. I watched on television a mob of people cheer as they announced the victory of our first African American president. The backlash of racist southern anger made me realize the true power of Obama’s victory. We had overcome so much.

My family lived one state away, and I knew they—mother and older sister—would be mourning this win. My mother was unable to speak about the possibility of a black president without using two words in particular: “black assholes”. It was uncanny. “That’s just what those black assholes want, to take over everything.” Sometimes I wish I could line-item-veto some of my DNA.
My sister calls herself devoutly Lutheran. She is convinced by conversation with her church friends that our country—“God’s country”—was under attack from evil Islamic forces. Of course prophecy says we are destined to face a final battle against the rest of the world in the end times. She insists we are the good, they are the bad, and speaks almost every thought in confirmation of this cosmogony. This is the girl who entered the room once when we were half-watching a strange movie about the Christian Apocalypse, and asked, “Is this based on a true story?”
So it was not too surprising when I received an e-mail, forwarded without question, with her own message added at the top, expressing how afraid she was that Obama will be president. The message said even the Qu’ran predicts that the evil Muslim world is destined to lose against the fight with the only real God (which naturally is ours, since somewhere along the way America became unquestionably a Christian nation). It gave this “quote”:

Quran ( 9:11) -- For it is written that a son of Arabia would awaken a  fearsome Eagle. The wrath of the Eagle would be felt throughout the lands of  Allah and lo, while some of the people trembled in despair still more  rejoiced; for the wrath of the Eagle cleansed the lands of Allah; and there  was peace.

This was not unusual. I had been receiving crazy messages like this from other friends as well. Two more from another friend named Wilma contained warnings that Barrack Obama refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance and claimed to have a Muslim faith (as though that were not allowed somehow even if true). Her emails justified racial profiling, always sporting the line “Have you forgotten?” in reference to September 11th.
I called Wilma a sister, closer than my real sister. Her husband drove an 18-wheeler and I would spend time with her since she was so often alone. We would watch silly movies and eat impromptu stir-fried concoctions from the fresh vegetables of her garden. We would pretend I was on Iron Chef as I cooked. But the tumor of fear grew in her as well. One day she wanted me to see a History Channel special on Nostradamus prophecies, telling me how afraid she was of an Islamic takeover. I never considered that both she and my sister may have been receiving this faulty information from a common source. I paid little attention to Wilma’s delusions, figuring they were not for me to correct. Her e-mails, however, were growing so hateful and factually deplorable that I could not stand the fact they were being spread to others.
There was no way for me to call this anything but bigotry, even though I consider the Islam religion just as crazy as any other. A Nostradamus-justified bigotry against Islam to me is no less ironic than when the Pope accused the practice of Reiki to be of no scientific value. Pot, meet kettle. Everyone is someone else’s infidel. To them, we’re the terrorist.
I wasn’t one for watching the news. Not since I’d grown disappointed with the Republicans and quit being one. I regret now that I’d converted my family to that side years before. Other friends, especially gay friends, would grow angry at my defense of the Republican party before, but strangely were even angrier at my political apathy after. I am a gay man. Yes, I felt disenfranchised by the Republican and Rightwing disdain for homosexuality, but I saw little relief from the Left’s leadership. Disappointed in both parties, I planned on not voting. I did not understand their anger until I really dealt with the rage and insanity in Wilma. Only then did I understand what they fought.
            Wilma failed to hide the addresses of other recipients of these slanderous rants. How many more people sent these sick pieces of propaganda along without thinking to question the authenticity of these claims? How many of those recipients would do the same, to how many more blind, gullible forwarders? Had anybody thought to show them they were wrong? Would it have mattered? It amazed me that fear had this kind of political success over fact.
I created a counter-message. In it I provided links to sources proving that no such verse exists in the Koran, a video showing Obama both at prayer in a Christian church and properly taking the Pledge, and other items debunking those fallacious memes. In anticipation of future falsehoods, I also added material disproving similar lies (commonly called snopes) that had been sent out about his opponent, John McCain. In comparison, there were hardly any, and none so offensive. I pointed out that I also did the same thing years ago when a Nostradamus prophecy had made the internet rounds. It claimed that George W. Bush had been predicted as a “village idiot.” My point, I’d hoped, was clear: fact-checking before forwarding is important if we are to make votes for informed reasons. It does not matter which party you’re in.
            My sister and mother stopped sending me anything except abrupt, upset-sounding replies to anything I said in my blog—a journal that was becoming more political as I grew aware of the extreme inaccuracies in the Right wing’s news. They would always defend the Right with little effort or thought other than to echo that their sources are good things, fighting the “liberal media” and giving the Right “equal time” for once. They were either unwilling or incapable of defending this notion. They just insisted the media is liberal.
            I finally had to cut off contact, though more for personal reasons. My father, who lives in Arkansas, called and relayed to me how they said I’ve gone off of the “deep end.” Bush’s horrid presidency changed his mind. It astounded me that the most racist and homophobic man I knew had not only accepted his gay son, but was defending a black president. Bush’s performance as president had changed his mind on some things.
But it was Wilma who showed me the depth of the problem, making me aware of how dire the situation really was in our politics. Rather than taking to heart any of the corrections, she informed me that no matter what I say, she knows Obama is a Muslim. In a very lengthy rant, filled with huge portions of shouting, all-capital words, she informed me of the fact. She had once worked with a Muslim man who, as she said in southern dialect, “would sooner kill me as look at me.” She insisted all Muslims are the same: evil, woman-hating, murdering demons from hell. The argument went on for several e-mails before I cut her off too, for my own sanity’s sake.
These relationships could not be salvaged. I received physical threats from Wilma’s husband and son. It was no surprise that both of their messages started with accusations, each calling me a “typical liberal,” just as every typical conservative does in almost all of their typical arguments. Or at least the ones I’ve heard.
Finally broken of my apathy and understanding the anger of so many friends, I rushed to the ballot so I could cancel out one ill-informed vote, if nothing more. My previously frustrated friends were excited to see that I had opened my eyes. I felt elated to see that this nation, barely a lifetime ago filled with such anti-black hatred, had taken this major step in breaking from its record of racism.
            What had caused this level of irrational fear? And how do I watch this happen to a friend without feeling anger? How does one become so lost that they join a terrified, obedient march for this fear-mongering agenda?
I’m reminded of George Romero’s zombie films—the nightmarish scenario of loved ones becoming reanimated cannibal corpses. This political environment is a similar infection: a zombie apocalypse of viral bigotry. But I was in the first few minutes of every zombie movie: still unaware of the infestation, thinking there were only a few strange isolated biting incidents.

I have nothing but contempt for this new McCarthyism. This exploitation of the most primal fears and prejudices of otherwise good people is not new. It is the latest of a long line of such campaigns. Remember the colonial witch-hunts. Remember the Cold War phobia of Communists that made us break church/state separation and put “under God” in our pledge, thinking it would be like garlic to a vampire. Remember “Satanic panic” campaigns where music records were spun backwards, while Judas Priest and Ozzy Osbourne were blamed for violence and suicide. Fear is a treacherous weapon used by the worst of monsters to trick good people into advancing evil agendas. We have not come far from these things. Every day the new savior-media of the Right spews forth what is quickly becoming a new Malleus Maleficarum.
            The greatest of all prejudices fell onto President Obama: hatred of the Left. The Bible Belt may have surprisingly given many of its states’ collegiate votes to him that night, but those opposed became louder and more persistent than ever. Many people rushed to their gun stores to stock up on killing tools, afraid their right to bear arms would die. All liberals are against the 2nd Amendment, they are told. Barack Obama, however, is for the 2nd Amendment.
In a Romero zombie movie the living must hide in houses boarded in a futile effort of protection or in a shopping mall that slowly becomes a secluded tomb. I found a way out of the south, returning to Tucson in hopes I could forget the hate that has poisoned my home of Georgia. This, too, would prove to be a futile attempt.

A week after I returned to Arizona came the first time I’d ever stood at the crossroads of Pima and Swan. My best friend sent me an invitation to join a rally supporting and thanking our representative, Gabrielle Giffords. She had voted for Obama’s effort to regulate businesses for a cleaner environment. We arrived at Gifford’s office only to find that the planned rally of support had been swarmed by mobs of angry conservatives outnumbering us at least six to one. Supporters were instead forced to stand in front of the church diagonally across from her office, in the persistent and dangerous desert sun.
Trucks draped with American and Confederate flags passed by repeatedly, honking and raising cheers in their crowd. A man stood almost in the street shouting vile and hateful things about liberals, blaming them for everything from the deficit to the destruction of the nation’s alleged foundational Christian values. We stood silently, enduring it for what felt like hours. We couldn’t be seen in the madness. I can easily imagine my sister, mother, Wilma, and her threatening husband and son amongst that crowd, acting in precisely the same way. I wonder how I could’ve ever called such people my family.
I was only able to find a meager encouragement by how many people passed by and sounded their horns for us. The desert reminded me of how its July sun takes its toll on the body. I was grateful as a fellow liberal demonstrator passed cold bottles of water to us. Her kindness was also extended to those across the street. They turned her offer down. One of their protestors crossed over to us as well—a conservative who stood in front of us, waving his sign, cheered by his fellows.
Few of their signs spoke of anything environmental. I wondered if they even knew why we were there. Some read “NO CAP & TRADE” but most were irrelevant talking points. Their misspelled jargon directly echoed from their media. We were drowned in a sea of signs about abortion, socialism, Hitler references and accusations that liberalism is the enemy of a “Christian nation.” One sign called President Obama the “Leper Messiah.” Though Arizona has one of the lowest state tax rates of the nation, I wondered, as I do now, how many more tax cuts it would take to make them finally stop claiming to be “Taxed to the Max already.”
Clearly beaten, we packed our signs and left. We felt humiliated by the sounds of applause from the other three corners.
As the weeks progressed I learned about other incidents of similar disruption. Town halls and rallies were usurped by Tea Partiers and the crowds they formed. Though their numbers were overstated by Fox, I know from firsthand experience that reports of their vitriol were anything but exaggerated.
It was a nauseating feeling standing before an entity bigger than my own, knowing they were devoted so intensely to the hatred of everything that I am integrally as a human being. I stared that day into the eyes of a crowd of frighteningly bitter people; a storm cloud the likes of which I’ve never faced before.
After the tragic shooting that same intersection was flooded with candles and beauty. But for me it was a haunting reminder of the irrational hatred I faced that day. Though beautiful at night, that mob of candles and sentiment, I realize each point of light eventually burns out. People forget good deeds of good men, but not what they fear. How futile such hope seems in our current climate. Hope burns on a very short wick.
With this madness, how can anyone claim this was unforeseen? How am I supposed to watch such a spectacle without feeling anger? Does it make me just as bad that I fear them?

It’s easy to forget the country’s popular vote went towards Obama and the Democrats in all three sectors of government in 2008. The loudest voice is what’s heard, not the majority. When it’s not yours, it gives you the illusion you are alone, making you fear and forget that the silent are almost so often an unspoken majority that could vote very differently than what is heard or polled. You begin to believe you are defeated and outnumbered by hateful people. You lose hope. You don’t speak out when you think nobody’s listening. Nobody hears you and knows that they’re not alone. Nobody knows, then, to stand with you. You decide not to vote or try. That’s exactly what they want.
I want to believe the situation isn’t this dire. I want to believe the polarization is more imagined than it is severe. I try to believe this out of fear that I risk becoming as prejudiced against the right wing of the political spectrum as Wilma is against Islam, or my mother against black people, or that entire savage mob was against anything liberal. I would lose too much to sink into such cynicism.
I am glad to know that several conservatives remain my friends. They give me some hope at least, proving to me that conservative does not necessarily equal hateful. Other moments encourage me as well: At an RNC meeting a speaker denounced homosexuality. The reaction of its members made national news. They booed him off the stage. John McCain actively fought the repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy while his daughter, Meghan, spoke on several venues in support of marriage and military equality for LGBT people. His wife, Cindy, did as well, only to revoke her statements the next day. It’s hard knowing that an ally is so easily silenced.
I want to feel hope. But for every good sign, there is unchecked atrocity that also touches me personally. At the same time Prop 8 in California won, nullifying so many long overdue gay marriages, Proposition Initiative 1 also won in the state of Arkansas. It banned the rights of gay couples to adopt children. This was the state where I’d graduated high school. Friends of mine who live there—a gay couple—suddenly had great fear they would be forced to return their child to the abusive parents from which they’d rescued him. They had only recently told me that, while recovering from extensive abuse, he was finally learning to play with other kids without hiding in corners.
While I’m straining myself to not become equally bigoted towards the Right, a few of the people I knew, from school or otherwise, voted for Prop 1 for religious reasons. Am I supposed to react to this as though it were a mere difference in political opinion?
Today we talk about civility and wonder where it’s gone. Both sides, we’re told, need to tone down their rhetoric. Believe me, I want civility. But a very real political enemy exists, with a very real agenda that hurts many very real people close to me.
I find it sickening, then, to hear Sean Hannity speak as though it’s conservatism and Christianity under attack. This man I once respected, who I’ve met twice, continues to call anything Obama does an act of tyranny, despite the fact he won a fair popular vote with the very promises he is attacked for fulfilling. FoxNews, spins every story to aid in the growing hatred and dissatisfaction with the Obama Administration. Healthcare for people in need is equated with Hitler and the Third Reich. Their viewers march in obedience. Fliers are found around Tucson with Obama’s image, mocking his most famous red and blue hued campaign poster. Instead of HOPE, the bottom reads OBEY. I’d find the irony hilarious if I weren’t afraid of the power of their influence. Where was this level of paranoia towards the president who gave us the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act?
They react with the extremism of a terrorist towards those they accuse of being terrorists. They become something I fear, and I also react to them in kind, at the risk of losing conservative friends who are not as extreme. The difference, if I must defend myself, is that they fear a perceived enemy. A carelessly scapegoated enemy. They fear people they truly hate, while I fight hatred itself. I fight an enemy infecting people I love. I fight hate, while feeling pity towards those saturated in it, unable to understand why. I have too much reason to fight to be burdened by such second-guessing and self-doubt, especially as such hesitance is absent in my enemies. Still, I’d rather not have to fight at all. But I must.
Meanwhile the Right’s leadership declares it their quest to reduce funding to the already ineffective EPA, to repeal healthcare, to step up anti-gay policy, to obliterate reproductive rights, and to destroy decades of civil rights progress. I want to reach out across the aisle, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it feels like trying to make peace with your own rapist. Even my conservative friends are, after all, voting for people of a party that increasingly advances these and other atrocities without hesitation, compromise, or apology. How can I not be angered? How can they not see why this is important to me?
I know of extremist Left politics, but I do not fear them to the degree that I do the Right’s. I fear the Right’s because they are the stated policies of their mainstream. The extremists on the Left are virtually ignored by ours. You wouldn’t know it from the average news cast. Jon Stewart even carelessly casts Keith Olbermann in with Glenn Beck. Bill Maher argued against the notion that they are in any way equal: “One reports facts, and the other is very close to playing with his poop.”
The declared goals of the Republican Party are not the rants of a few of their unwanted crazy members, but of their successfully elected leaders, elected based on those very promises. How can my friends not want to distance themselves from such things? How is it that the word liberal is treated as a foul adjective when the other side moves in such vile ways? Why am I feeling the need to justify my defense of my rights, while they do not feel any shame whatsoever? Is it because they don’t know what it’s like to fear walking down a road hand-in-hand with their lover? Does it feel better to know it’s only someone else’s rights that are threatened? Better them than me? I just don’t understand.
With all of this, why should I fear speaking out lest I be perceived as just as bad? Not one debate I’ve had with a conservative has failed to make that same counter-accusation, that same method of evasion that it’s the liberals who are the real bigots because we hate the bigotry. Ann Coulter’s notorious I know you are but what am I? method of political argument. Well you’re a bigot, and I’m your embarrassed fellow American, that’s what. The catch phrase of liberals today is “false equivalency” for a good reason.

Arizona has made national news repeatedly, and in increasingly negative ways. Governor Jan Brewer killed support for partners of gay state government workers. She claimed that God put her in her position to do this. By the time she pushes the infamous immigration policy known as SB1070 we already know she’s an extreme voice for the Religious Right. Violence along the border. A policeman shot, with suspicion he may have lied. Doubt that SB1070 was even reasonably needed. Constant attempts to legalize all guns for anyone at anytime anywhere, forgetting that the 2nd Amendment begins with the words “well regulated”.
The times are hostile. The most fitting symbol is the brick that shattered the pane of that office on Pima and Swan. One block from my new home. There is no escaping this. Let’s face it, I ran from one red state to a bloody red one.

I don’t actually agree that speech causes people to shoot people. I also don’t say merely calling a gay kid a faggot makes them commit suicide. This is where I break from common liberal thought. I know it surprises people for me to say that, but I also know that it takes a lot more than mere words to break a soul. You have to create a world that reinforces the hatred. You must make it so that the assumption envelopes your victim, so all of existence seems to confirm the taunts. It must be ubiquitous and inescapable. You must make it seep into his own thinking. This has been accomplished for gay kids. It often feels as though gay-hating religion has permeated our whole society. Homophobia saturates this culture so that the kids are instinctively ashamed when their first urge is felt. Any voice against this is instantly made the extreme one—that radical gay agenda. We know very well we’re not accepted.
The Right has definitely created their own echo chamber of news validating what they want to hear. Their views are now spoken on what only appears to be substantial news sources, given equal time regardless of whether there is any factual reason to respect such a view. Without this matrix existing, cross-hairs on a campaign site are merely a silly metaphor nobody would take seriously. But bombard people with lies and fear and they will wield their weapons with the full knowledge that they saw their fears validated on the news. Argument to the contrary goes unheard. The mind is made up.
If only those armed with facts could be so motivated. Voter turnout for the Left and the youth in 2010 was among the lowest in years. Many Democratic candidates (Giffords included) seemed insistent on distancing themselves from Obama rather than touting his very real victories. I believe this comes from a fear of losing their seats, inspired from the loudest and craziest voice out there: the Teabaggers. Glenn Beck said they surround us. We’ve become too convinced he’s right.
My partner and I, on election night, stood at the hotel party where Giffords, Brewer’s opponent Terry Goddard, and other candidates and Democrat supporters watched giant TV screens broadcast the news of defeat of Democrats nationwide. America returned Congress into the hands of those who had broken the country. How does that happen? We watched until we couldn’t take anymore. We left in surrender before we even knew if our own representative was to keep her seat.
That night I thought to myself: Perhaps I should’ve stayed out of the political debate. What was accomplished? Whose mind did I ever change? I’ve lost many people I thought were friends. But I don’t regret leaving Georgia. Since returning to Tucson I’ve found a boyfriend named Ernie, with whom I’ve grown a very strong, fun, and fulfilling bond. I’ve returned to school at the University of Arizona. I have a vehicle of my own. I have healthcare, work out more, and have lost a lot of weight.
But for those I’ve lost, and for a plague that feels inescapable, I began sinking into a severe depression. It was in bed, in this very state of mind, that I was aroused by the hum of my cellular phone and that text message from Ernie, telling me Giffords had been shot dead.
She was one small point of relief in that electoral massacre. At her office on that intersection, as we carried candles and held signs of love and support, we felt as shattered as that window had been by the brick. Ernie’s sign read, simply, “Peace.” Mine asked how a Christian nation can be one that fires guns at people who stand for healing.
We were amongst the first to arrive. News cameras were already there. Crowds trickled in slowly and steadily. I took out my cellular phone to snap a photograph of the candles, while my partner read signs that left him in tears. It was at that moment that a camera captured us. Later we found our photo on the front of Yahoo news. The same photo was seen on MSNBC’s website,, and based on the accounts of Facebook friends, we were seen as far as Germany and New Zealand. I cringed when I learned our photo had also been aired on the FoxNews Channel. I left Georgia without my family knowing where I was going. They watch FoxNews religiously. They probably know where I am now.

Even our mourning is not respected. Shortly after we arrived security ushered us from the corner. They feared a suspicious package that had arrived at the office. We all assumed something horrible: something from a right-wing or teabagger. How could we not? And does our suspicion make us just as bad? Did we not all assume the same of the rock that shattered her window months before? Who thought a liberal might’ve thrown that?
After fighting the battle we have fought, these accusations land hard. We may not know the origins of the package, the rock, or the political intentions of the disturbed Jared Lee Loughner. But I do know the origins of California’s Proposition 8, Arkansas’ Prop 1, the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act, and the racial profiling security policies, as well as many other atrocities. I stand confident, knowing that we on the Left would have to become some pretty horrendous bastards to be truthfully labeled just as bad.

Reason and civility loses to loudly expressed fear and hateful obstructionism. If negativity trumps fact, why isn’t there more motivation on the side with both fact and real reasons to fear? I am reminded how loudly I’ve heard lies and hatred spewed carelessly far and wide, but how seldom I’ve heard the truth so loudly proclaimed. We have websites and mostly buried liberal shows in corners of obscurity. I think it’s time that truth drowns out all else.
It never fails. We liberals are always bombarded by the predictable accusation of being just as bad. A bullied child is always told that they are stooping to their level when they feel hate for their bully. That child knows something that the accuser does not: It’s a level that simply works. If I stoop to reality to win real victories for real people, then call me instead a hero. You are not a better person for not fighting for justice. You are not taking any higher ground by pretending you’re an island, and that those who fight for justice are just as bad as those who deny it for us.
It was negativity against Bush that won 2008 for Democrats, as the country reacted to failed Republican policies. It was negativity against Democrats that won 2010. I do not like that negativity is what wins. At some point you worry so much more about victory and the protection of those damaged by loss that you stop worrying about winning based on ineffective principles. I worry for the adopted child in Arkansas, those suffering from “pre-existing conditions,” and so many others who are not going to be rescued by good ideals. There is negativity out there. It’s time we say so. We didn’t create it. We don’t become infected by it by fighting it.

Negativity brought people together in Tucson. The display of candles and flowers at Pima and Swan confirms that. The reaction of Tucson’s citizens to Rev. Phelps’ and the Westboro Baptist Church also proves this point. When they suggested they were going to protest the funerals of the victims of this tragic shooting, Tucson came together.
An announcement of negativity led Ernie and I to stand in front of Tucson’s downtown library, watching our breath leave us as clouds in the cold of the night. The Westboro Baptist Church were coming to protest the funeral of the little girl shot in the Tucson tragedy. Their message was to be as vile as ever: Thank God for killing these people; God hates America.
Again we were surrounded by candlelight. This time it was night, and the flames illuminated the faces of people in action, not just in mourning. They were sad, but determined to stand against hatred. They were doing something.
There is something about a flame that creates beauty even when shed upon faces of sadness. Lit in amber, tears reflected in the flame, I finally feel like I am not alone. For once our voices are raised. What began as a small crowd grew to astonishing numbers. People kept appearing in mobs, doubling our number every few minutes. Having volunteered to do so, I could hardly hand out fliers fast enough nor control my desire to cry in relief at seeing this magnitude of support. Where were these numbers when we needed votes?
Days later, Obama’s appearance in Tucson raised hope and unity. His approval rating soared higher than ever, despite FoxNews’ attempts to convince the country that it was handled like a pep rally. The country gets it. No matter what he does, they’ll insult him. But their viewership is diminishing.

           All reports continue to say Giffords is recovering miraculously. My depression is subsiding. I want to feel hope. I want to believe we are becoming a united people. I would trade a million breathtaking displays for one night of a caring American people, who value their freedom and vote to preserve it. I saw it in 2008. I did not see it in 2010. Citizens are seeing it in Wisconsin, Indiana, and several Middle American states where Republican governors are destroying union bargaining rights. Negativity is creating a wave of unity. I wonder when will we simply stand united to prevent the negativity in the first place?