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Del. Ken Plum: The Ugliness of Prejudice

by Del. Ken Plum — May 18, 2017 at 10:15 am 11 Comments

This is a commentary from Del. Ken Plum (D-Fairfax), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

Last week, without provocation, a woman in the checkout line at a local grocery store told another customer — a Muslim woman — “I wish they didn’t let you in the country.”

In the exchange that was recorded on a camera phone, the woman to whom the remark was directed explained that she had been born in the United States. Rather than leave it at that, the first woman went on saying, “Obama’s not in office anymore; you don’t have a Muslim in there anymore. He’s gone — he may be in jail in the future.”

I realize that there are more people than I would like to acknowledge that have strong prejudices against others because of their race, religion, ethnicity or other reason. It continues to shock me when I see the ugliness of the expression of such prejudices as the recording of this event provided. As the woman to whom the remarks were directed pointed out, it’s abnormal to start a conversation like that with someone you do not know. There really is something wrong with people who are so blinded by their prejudices that they feel compelled to lash out at a person who has done them no wrong. The comments reflect a deep-seated hatred that comes out for reasons only a mental health expert could help discover.

What is particularly troubling these days is the blurring of the line between political convictions and prejudice toward individuals. In our deeply divided political landscape, too often political views become opportunities to demonize people who hold different views. Unfortunately talk radio, social media and some cable news shows tend to invite this destructive phenomenon.

In addition to the repulsiveness I feel about the hateful comments, I was also saddened that social media and news accounts described the scene as a store in Reston, Virginia. I know from a lot of personal experience the amount of effort that so many people have made over the years to ensure that Reston is an open, welcoming and inclusive community. While I understand why the store did nothing to address the situation, I wish somehow there had been a disclaimer on the video: The woman speaking does not represent the views of the people of Reston.

The situation reminds us that building community is not a one-time occurrence, a workshop, or a feel-good session. Building a community of respect and love is an ongoing process that we work at a little every day. We greet those we meet; we hug each other; we attend each other’s houses of worship; we show respect to others; we speak out against hate and prejudices; we listen to each other. We use appropriate channels to discuss political views, and whether in person or online we stick to the issues and don’t resort to personal attacks.

A display of hateful and ugly prejudice as we have just witnessed must bring us together in mutual support and respect as we want Reston and every other community to display.

  • Jenny Gibbers

    I thought we had this covered but https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1f30e6c8584422bc8b4a7d66e687c76f6cf3258615a12048ffd34b300f723d24.jpg lets do it one more time to ensure Ken gets his votes in the next race.

  • Oy

    Blah blah blah what a pointless post. Once again Ken has nothing to say.

  • Rational Reston

    “…In our deeply divided political landscape, too often political views become opportunities to demonize people who hold different views. Unfortunately talk radio, social media and some cable news shows tend to invite this destructive phenomenon.”

    This from an individual who routinely writes about differing views in extremes and broad strokes to stoke the flames of fear.

    It’s good that the moment at TJ was caught on video, it starts to expose the extreme polarization and xenophobia of Reston.

    We can start to fix it by finding another Representative.

    • Paul

      I remember when Mr. Plum wrote his weekly piece and demonized any person that had the “Don’t Tread On Me” license plate on their vehicle….they must be selfish and angry people”. It’s amazing.

  • Scott

    “We use appropriate channels to discuss political views, and whether in person or online we stick to the issues and don’t resort to personal attacks.”

    Please remember this article Ken. Just about every article you submit, personally attacks people you disagree with politically. An example of “Projection” at its finest.

  • Mike M

    Someone, probably a mentally ill person, was mean to someone else. So, it’s lecture time from Ken. Funny thing there is actual crime against people every day and Ken doesn’t choose to lecture anyone about that. What gives? Does it “shock” Ken when robbery or murder happens?

    “In our deeply divided political landscape, too often political views become opportunities to demonize people who hold different views.”

    Ken, this is exactly what you do. It is what you are doing in this article. You are implying that the opposition is immoral.

    Go away, Ken.

    • Feh

      An illegal or “diverse” resident of South Reston commits an actual crime: liberals leap into action to explain this is not representative and “they’re not all like that how dare you generalize!”

      White middle class person says something that hurts someone’s feewings: liberals leap into action to decry the hateful ugliness and prejudice that characterizes all Republicans.

      • Mike M

        Direct hit!

  • ichrysso

    You all beat me to it. Carry on.

  • 3 avocados

    At the park today I saw the children play together and have fun, it was great to see their innocence,

    while at the same time it showed how ignorant and childish adults really are. For a second I was even ashamed of myself [-》]

  • Jenny Gibbers

    Interesting that this event got people more worked up then say President Trump firing Comey or the book release “$hattered”.

    What that tells me is that America is still great and could get even better.

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