“Sad and disappointed.” Those were the words Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer used to describe the behavior of a woman who went on a racist tirade in Jefferson Mall. Media outlets from New York to Los Angeles have covered the story, and it’s one of other, similar videos that have gone viral recently.
There was the white Trump supporter who went ballistic at black workers at a Chicago store. She repeatedly called one worker an “animal.” She declared that she voted for Trump, and then asked if they wanted to kick her out for that.
There was the Delta passenger who had to be banned from the airline for his obscene verbal attack on everyone else on a jet who didn’t support Donald Trump. There was a group of fifth graders who chanted “build a wall” at a school in Southern California. U.S. News and World Report recently did a story on the rise of racist outbursts after the election.
In this case in Kentucky, a woman became upset after the customer in front of her had a friend bring a couple more items to be purchased. The fact she was mad about that isn’t the problem. Her outrage took a racist turn when she said, “Go back to wherever the f--- you come from, lady.”
As you’ve probably seen, it didn’t stop there.
“Just because you come from another country,” the woman continued, “that don’t make you nobody. You’re nobody, as far as I’m concerned. Probably on welfare. The taxpayers probably paid for all that stuff.”
This is where we have to pause the video and wonder a couple of glaring questions. First, why is nobody coming to the defense of the victims in this outburst? Secondly, how many Kentuckians share the same feelings as this woman?
The woman who shot the video wrote on her Facebook post that the video wasn’t the whole story. She pointed out that other people did make comments — but it didn’t do much good.
But what percentage of Kentuckians agree? When you look at the comments of Donald Trump, for example his “build a wall” stance, you see a similar ideology. Then, we have to understand that 1.2 million Kentuckians voted for Donald Trump. About half that number, 628,000, voted for Hillary Clinton, and 91,000 voted for the other candidates combined. Basically, it’s two to one for Trump in Kentucky, or more than 60 percent of the voters.
If we polled every Kentuckian, would six out of ten honestly agree with the screaming lady in the video? Surely not. But has Trump emboldened a sense to speak out with hate, racism and isolationism?
Did the Hispanic lady in the video purchase the items with money she earned through hard work? Naturally, I would assume she did. However, the angry woman in the video made it clear that she felt “taxpayers probably paid for all that stuff.” A witness also told WHAS 11 news that the angry woman claimed that now, after this election, things will change.
It’s the Trump effect. It’s the “we won, we own America, you are on the draw and we want our country to ourselves” mentality. It’s the rationale of Make America Hate Again. It’s the idea that people who are immigrants somehow are cheating the system and hurting the rest of us.
It’s my hope that most Kentuckians would consider this woman’s angry outburst offensive and disgusting. The video made me feel sorry for everyone involved. I felt sorry for the victims of her verbal abuse, and I felt sorry for the people standing around watching it. I felt sorry for the woman who was spewing the hate, too, because she was embarrassing herself and Kentucky.
I felt some anger, too, though. What makes our country great are the principles of freedom, equality and democracy.
Engraved on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty is a poem that includes the phrase “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” In the Bible, there is a verse in Colossians that urges us to “clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
Let’s talk about a moral agenda. Let’s talk about being fair and just to others. What the viral video showed us was hate, and it was Trump’s exact sort of hate. It goes against the morals that we hold dear, the morals espoused at the foot of Lady Liberty and in the pages of the Bible. Just because we have a president-elect who emboldens hate — instead of liberty and kindness — doesn’t mean we can go around in society and forget those principles.
Stand up for what you believe. Tell that woman to go to the back of the line. But don’t attack her because of race or ethnicity, and don’t make general assumptions based on those distinctions. And, most of all, don’t forget what it really means to be an American.
Daniel Lowry is the Kentucky Democratic Party’s director of communications.