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Hate in America

“The Civil War, in which are included the causes and consequences, constitutes the central event in American history,” writes historian Paul Johnson in his 1997 book, A History of the American People.

The South’s agrarian economy was harmed by additional tariffs on foreign manufactured goods making southern imports more expensive and benefitting northern manufacturers; the slave trade having become illegal, slaves became an increasingly valuable commodity. Abraham Lincoln on a trip to Louisiana in 1852 viewed a slave auction where female slaves, shorn of clothing, were sold to plantation owners, among other buyers. It is said to have profoundly impacted his thinking about the evil of slavery.

From the shelling of Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, to the end of the war, 620,000 Americans would die.

The aftermath of the war led to widespread bitter resentment. The eradication of the Confederacy and the almost total devastation of the South’s economy and its way of life, and the hatred and fear of the freed slaves brought about barbaric acts of violence, not only to former slaves, but to their defenders.

After the passage of 150 years, the beast of unabated hatred is still alive in our land in the form of growing numbers of malevolent hate groups, numbering more than 2,100 in 2011. A map of the United States shows, coincidentally, the majority of them are in the states of the old Confederacy. In addition to the revived Ku Klux Klan, there are the following active hate groups in America: neo-Nazi, white nationalist, racist skinhead, Christian identity, black separatist, and neo-Confederate, among others.

Why the rise of this phenomenon? An answer to this question appears in the spring issue of Intelligence Report, published by the Southern Poverty Law Center: “For the second year is a row, the radical right in American expanded explosively in 2010, driven by resentment over the changing racial demogrpahics of the country, frustration over the government’s handling of the economy, and the mainstreaming of conspiracy theories and other demonizing propaganda aimed at various minorities.”

So what’s to be done? What are the ways? Humanity cries out for peace and tolerance and justice. Can solutions ever be found?

Alan Freedman, Buffalo

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