Joe Barton, a conservative Republican from Texas, recently did something that most Republican congress critters seem to be actively trying to avoid. Barton held a town hall with his constituents.
Joe Barton, who once famously apologized to British Petroleum (BP) for U.S. government inquiries into its business practices after the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, held a public forum in the very small community of Frost, Texas, more than a hour away from his district's metropolitan center of Arlington. A skeptic might suppose that Barton wanted to make attendance as difficult as possible, especially for his urban voters.
But it was a town hall, nonetheless - and it was very well attended in spite of the hard-to-get-to location. One woman at the meeting had the temerity to ask Barton why he had voted against the "Violence Against Women" act, and he fired back that he felt it was a state's rights issue and needed to be resolved by the enlightened denizens of the Texas state legislature. When a man in the audience began debating that point, the open-minded Barton told him in no uncertain terms to "shut up!"
Nice one, Joe. Maybe you don't need to be operating out in public after all.
After reading about that town hall and the congressman's testy exchange with a citizen who attended the event, I went on to read the public comments that were attached to the article. Several people focused on the "state's rights" issue, with most noting that conservatives preferred funneling social issues back to the states where they better hold the line of old belief systems - things like voting rights and the rights of particular groups of individuals (such as women) would have a tougher time reaching the standards of the enlightened world if they had to deal with cantankerous and small-minded state legislators. Some readers pointed out, however, that there were some things that conservatives do not want to be handled by the states - such as marijuana legislation.
In the midst of this discourse on why conservatives preferred certain things to legislated by the states, one reader commented in passing on "the seven hated groups," without any clarification. A later reader picked up on that and opined that he suspected the "seven hated groups" were: African-Americans, Hispanics, Muslims, women, immigrants, atheists, and liberals. Still later another commentator stated that she was writing a book on state's rights and she felt the seven groups were: the not-male, the not-Christian, the not-well-to-do, the not-heterosexual, the not-native-born, the not-white, and the disabled.
That set me to exploring some of the uglier areas of the Internet in search of the alt right's definitive list of the seven hated groups, if indeed, any such list existed. A cursory examination of the cesspool of extremism revealed that while hate exists in abundance, a codification of targets into a simple list of seven does not seem to be in evidence.
Perhaps Bannon and Kellyanne are working to remedy that on their weekly flights back and forth to Florida. They do represent a President who, along with his father, built a rental empire through various schemes to avoid renting to blacks, promised to ban Muslims from entering the United States, and bragged about being a sexual predator toward women.
But there was no definitive list of seven, per se - so here is my suggestion based on the actions of the current President and his advisers, the Congress, and the attitudes of rural America - as I perceive them. These, in no particular order, are the people most easily vilified and taken advantage of by unscrupulous politicians:
Women, the LGBT community, non-Caucasians, immigrants (including resident Hispanics), non-Christians, the poor, and the disabled.Each of those groups represent a unique strength in our society, but politicians use them to stir old hatreds and divide us for their political advantage. May the day soon dawn when we will be able to see past the political manipulations and embrace the concept of an all-inclusive America. As one we will be beautiful.