By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

For the past year, our country has experienced a strange and disturbing phenomenon, and that is verbal and/or physical attacks on people of all ages, genders, and colors who dare to sport Make America Great Again hats out in public. And while people who are opposed to the current administration may think that this version of Publisher’s Point is a political one, they would be wrong. This is a plea for preserving the 1st Amendment, even when it’s painful. If anything, it is a cry for the Constitution that hopefully transcends “the frantic flapping of the wings,” right or left.

Attacks began in earnest during the 2016 presidential campaign, and they are increasing, both in frequency as well as fraud. Here are just a few:

  • Actor Jussie Smollett is in a heap of trouble for trying to claim that as a gay black man, he was accosted in Chicago by men wearing MAGA hats, had bleach poured on him, and a noose placed around his neck in the middle of the night in sub-zero Chicago weather. Turns out that he paid two guys to wear MAGA hats and beat him. It was all fake, and as NBA legend Charles Barkley has now famously said, “If you are going to break the law, don’t write a check.”
  • An 81-year-old man wearing a MAGA hat was recently attacked and beaten in New Jersey as he shopped at a grocery store. The perpetrator was a teenager.
  • A woman who was here illegally from Brazil attacked a male MAGA hat wearer in a Massachusetts restaurant. Not smart, as she put herself on ICE’s radar, and now she is facing charges as well as deportation.
  • A MAGA-hat wearing teenager in San Antonio was attacked by a man in July 2018
  • Teenagers in the familiar red hats were falsely accused of mocking a Native American at a pro-life rally, when in fact it was the just the opposite
  • A black man wearing a MAGA hat was cursed out crazily by a woman at a rally, and calmly stood his ground

And so it goes. Several of the above attacks have been since January of 2019, and the chances are that it will get worse before it gets better. What is so problematic is that the ones who believe that this is acceptable behavior don’t understand that when widespread attacks become tolerated, no one is safe. The idea of “tolerance” is anything but. The “co-exist” bumper stickers seem a bit dented; and please forgive the throwback to a bumper sticker of 25 years ago, but “visualize world peace” is not even being able to be parodied into “visualize whirled peas” without evoking a sigh instead of a laugh. This is what I imagine it was like in the run-up in Germany to first being forced to wear yellow stars, and then being made into wallets and soap.

At the end of the day, no one said it better than Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” If MAGA hat wearers aren’t safe, neither is Antifa.

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