Standing against hatred

West Virginia Speaker of the House of Delegates Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, said something extraordinarily important Friday, in response to the parasites who attached themselves to the events of WVGOP Day — and the anger they provoked.

“Over the course of these now 52 days we have allowed national-level politics to become a cancer upon our state,” Hanshaw said.

I hope, sincerely, the people of West Virginia understand what he was trying to say to them.

There is no doubt the woman representing Charleston’s ACT! for America chapter, who set up a display promoting what most Americans — most human beings — understand is a reprehensible ideology, had a right to speak her views freely. It does not matter how much reasonable people might disagree with her, she is free to show us what is in her heart. She is not free from the consequences of that speech, though I do wish some of those who appear to have let their emotions get the best of them in the moment had controlled themselves a little better.

How twisted must the encouragers of that woman be, if they think West Virginians will fail to understand the election of U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., by her constituents is a perfect indicator that Americans have NOT forgotten the events of Sept. 11, 2001, or our resolve not to let the monsters who attacked us prove we are what they say we are?

Practitioners of all religions (or not) are welcomed here. Binding together in a nationwide decision to exclude one group of people from the rights and opportunities guaranteed to all Americans … THAT would have been an indication we have forgotten 9/11; and succumbed to the temptation to let the terrorists’ hate fill our own hearts.

And I’m not saying you have to agree with Omar’s politics, of course. In fact, you have every right to disagree with them — so long as you are not doing so purely because of her gender, the color of her skin, the way her name sounds or the religion her attire indicates she practices.

Believe me, calling her a “terrorist” says far more about the name-caller than it does about Omar.

I am grateful to Hanshaw for calling the behavior of some folks in Washington, D.C., what it is: a cancer.

I do wish he had found a way to take a stronger stand against Del. Eric Porterfield, R-Mercer. The glee with which Porterfield and some who supported him wallow in their own hatred is horrifying. To listen to him and some of those others cloak their misguided judgment and hatred of others in the guise of the faith tradition of which I consider myself a part is incredibly disappointing.

But Hanshaw tried to let the rest of the world (and the rest of the world IS watching us right now, folks) know “The West Virginia House of Delegates unequivocally rejects hate in all of its forms.”

I hope they do. I hope all of us can rise above this nonsense — stop sharing the memes that change no minds at all, and demonstrate only your own cultivated intellectual limitations and willingness to put up a wall between you and anyone who is “other.” Stop pretending you are patriots and Christians while ignoring the founding sentiments of both our nation and your religion. ALL men are created equal; and love God, and love one another. The end. There are no qualifiers to any of those statements.

There are nearly 326 million people in the United States; and 325,799,999 of them are different from you. That is a beautiful thing. You don’t have to agree with their politics. It is perfectly fine to believe they are wrong about something, or even several things.

Embrace them, anyway.

Christina Myer is executive editor of The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. She can be reached via e-mail at