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BILL CRAWFORD — Mississippi morality yielding to anger and hatred?

BILL CRAWFORD

“Hatred is blind and anger deaf” wrote Alexandre Dumas in his classic “The Count of Monte Cristo.”

In February, WalletHub.com ranked Mississippi as the 5th angriest and most hateful state behind Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Alaska. And the Clarion-Ledger reported “Mississippi has the third most hate groups in the country” per capita behind Idaho and Tennessee.

This comes amidst reports of increases in hate and hate crimes across America.

“Hate in America is on the rise” headlined a Washington Post editorial last November. “A new FBI report on hate crimes tells a sobering story. For the second year in a row, police departments across the country reported a rise in the number of crimes motivated by bias.”

Former President George W. Bush slammed Russia for using cyberattacks during the 2016 elections to turn “Americans against each other” and “exploit our country’s divisions,” reported NBC News last October.

“Bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed,” Bush said. “We’ve seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. At times, it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together.”

Others see President Donald Trump exhorting divisions.

In February Newsweek reported, “A Republican chairman in Michigan denounced the Trump administration and resigned from his position as a local party leader – citing President Donald Trump’s contribution to ‘more racism in our streets’ and ‘more hatred between family members’ as the final straw.”

“I can no longer remain silent,” said Brandon DeFrain, former chairman of the Bay County Republican Party.

“We are playing with fire when we use hatred in our midst as a partisan strategy to score points,” former Democratic NY Congressman Steve Israel told TheHill.com. “We are not each other’s enemies. The haters are enemies of us all. When we debase bigotry into an exercise of Republicans versus Democrats, we make it just another political issue that numbs the minds of too many people.”

In his passionate announcement that he would not seek re-election last October, Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake said, “I rise today with no small measure of regret. Regret, because of the state of our disunion, regret because of the disrepair and destructiveness of our politics, regret because of the indecency of our discourse, regret because of the coarseness of our leadership, regret for the compromise of our moral authority, and by our — all of our — complicity in this alarming and dangerous state of affairs.”

“Anger and resentment are not a governing philosophy,” Flake said. “We were not made great as a country by indulging or even exalting our worst impulses, turning against ourselves, glorying in the things which divide us, and calling fake things true and true things fake.”

Ironically, a 2017 Gallup survey ranked Mississippi as the most religious state in America, followed by Alabama, Utah, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

How is it that a state that reveres the Bible can have so many hearts infested with the bitter roots of hatred and anger?

A growing number of distinguished Mississippians say we’ve allowed the politics of hate and anger spewing forth from media, tweets, and politicians to blind us to Scripture and deafen us to moral teachings.

Crawford (crawfolk@gmail.com) is a syndicated columnist from Meridian.

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