How Small and Ugly Can We Get?

I received this email from a colleague with whom I team-teach classes from time to time. It speaks for itself.

“One of my IUPUI journalism students was enjoying coffee at a Greenwood, Indiana Starbucks while chatting with his friend José. They were speaking Spanish. A woman interrupted them saying, “You need to start speaking ‘American’ or go back to the hole in Mexico you came from.” My student laughed at her, an admirable response when confronted with blatant racism.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident for my student.  Carmel and Fishers police have stopped my student for DWB–driving with brown skin. Racial profiling is alive and well in Indiana. Indiana has a racist heritage that will take many more generations to be eradicated if, indeed, it will ever be eradicated. My only hope is the woman in this incident has no children to whom she can pass along her hatred of others.

At one time the Klan flourished in Indiana. Hangings were social events followed by pictures of the hangings being sent as post cards to friends. Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh and many others of their ilk spout their opinions in inflammatory language. Sarah Palin knows who the “true” Americans are, according to her. Unfortunately, a climate of hate speech and lack of civility feeds the courage of those, like the Starbucks woman, who are prone to racism. She apparently speaks “American,” a language that I am not familiar with. My student is a winner of a highly competitive college scholarship who speaks three languages, including English, fluently. The woman who accosted him is fluent only in hate.”