Amollo: Spineless hate dangerous for America’s diversity

Benson Amollo

It’s the conservatism, stupid! It sounds like a mouthful, even too windy for a bumper sticker. Yet the stretch with which some attention-hungry “conservative” groups have assumed is dumbing to say the least.

Ever since the reinvention of the tea party and a classic dramatization of the “Reclaim America” skit, Americans seen to be moderate or liberal and accused of being un-American have had to make do with a conservative minority that feels overly entitled to take a lead on everything moral, right, orderly and just the thing that counts. Extremist conservatives assume it is their place to tell the rest of us where to shop, how much to spend, who to befriend and even how to hate others without showing them a trace of dignity.

Yet, in the precursor to their misplaced sense of morality, they still deem America — in the words of the founders — as the land of the free. They still believe that America, the belly of the beast, is the place where the impossible happens. Isn’t America supposed to be the place where freedom permits uninterrupted choice and decisions? Isn’t this the land of the bold and the brave? Why in heaven’s name would America respond to the lopsided curtailing of her freedoms under the guise of ideology? And what is conservatism anyway? Aren’t we supposed to agree to disagree while remaining tolerant of each other?

Unless conservatism has a way of making its core believers think in a straight line, it amounts to a dangerous inbreeding of thought and conscience to remain skewed while holding those different with an undeserving contempt. It bleeds damagingly pretentious to think that a country of more than 300 million people could be shepherded into an ideological straitjacket. This is America. This is the land of diversity, the melting pot. America would never be the womb of invention; where dreams converge and experiments become global phenomena that turn economies around if we thought and acted alike.

America’s founders had to compromise so much in the larger interest. Even though they were not agreeable on how to captain the country to its great vision of prosperity, they knew that in their diversity of opinion and thought stood a great America. They agreed to disagree, but kept the country afloat. They knew times would change so many times that interest and idea would run against each other. They knew that someday, positions would shift, that slavery would end — that there would be a day when people of all races and backgrounds would be held and seen in equal measure.

That was their dream. It was those dreams that have given rise today, to a society that has to grope with the realities of an economy teetering in the brinks of dismay; of a diversity of people who today are in all counts gay, straight, white, black, brown, liberal, conservative and poor and rich altogether. They compromised all the same so that in the order of time, this America today would exist.

It is the spirit of compromise by the founders — who unfortunately are conservatives’ heroes — that we have the most amount of space to exploit our opinions. The irony however, gets bitter when our exploitation of that space is a target of the person who seems different from what “we expect.”

So, one would think the group One Million Moms would have this background. That the group that prides itself in being American and morally upright should have placed its palm in America’s pulse and felt the happy riveting that yells freedom and diversity. In its attack of television host Ellen DeGeneres’ new role as J.C. Penney’s spokesperson, the group’s attack is aimed at America the diverse. To dismiss a person’s professional ability and an institution’s commitment to business just on account of the person’s sexual orientation is lame. One Million Moms has a right to their own opinions and/or misgivings against persons whose sexual orientation reeks “weird” to them, but to exploit such to attack an American institution is stretchy and unfortunate to American families and the working class.

Over the last few days, One Million Moms, an offshoot of the conservative American Family Foundation, has mounted an “aggressive” campaign to discredit J.C. Penney as anti-American for appointing DeGeneres as its spokesperson. The group seems to see evil in an American entity that employs several families from high school to college kids to mothers and fathers and all kinds of professionals. Little wonder if these sets of J.C. Penney employees, who also help dress most of America at very affordable costs, do not subscribe to families or are lacking of value.

If as a people we are going to advocate a society where we are held accountable by our own actions, then it’s silly for anyone to advance selective hate. If One Million Moms believes in a great America that J.C. Penney and DeGeneres probably shares, then the group must be held accountable for its actions. No one can tell anybody where to buy merchandise and how to arrive at that decision. Unless One Million Moms has been contracted by another retail outlet to launch a defensive attack against recent J.C. Penney’s brilliant marketing strategies, its actions leave a lot to desire.