The Times did a great job of covering the story of the Hall County Democratic Committee’s virtual forum with the Rev. Raphael Warnock, a candidate for US Senate.
Before he began to address the attendees, the Zoom session was hacked by racist “trolls” who shouted the N-word. In a well-planned attack on the Rev. Warnock’s appearance, others spouted Q-Anon conspiracy theories and showed pornographic images.
While the host worked to block these hackers, they continued to disrupt the event. Finally, the Hall committee had to close the Zoom meeting.
Candice Dyer described it as “a cacophony of the worst of human awfulness, in response to a dignified public servant and person of faith.” She added: “I feel broken-hearted.”
As a longtime resident of North Georgia, I am appalled that the political divide in Georgia has come to this. Why can’t conservatives, liberals and moderates of any political party support candidates who reflect different values without resorting to vulgar, racist rants and efforts to silence free speech? Why do racist trolls feel emboldened to disrupt a democratic meeting?
I believe it is because of our leaders’ tacit approval of such behavior. Maybe it begins when a president describes anti-Semites and neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville as “very fine people.” Or when he calls the free press the “Enemy of the People.”
Maybe it was indirectly enabled by our own state Sen. Steve Gooch, and two other North Georgia senators, who were among only six senators who voted against the hate crimes bill that was adopted on June 23.
Maybe it’s because of the language and violence we see on TV against Black Americans or the rhetoric from Fox News, divisive politicians and social media.
How should we respond? The Rev. Warnock said, “It is more important than ever to hear each other out.” I think that’s good advice, but listening is not enough.
Vote for Democrats and take back the Georgia House and Senate. This will help erase an atmosphere that enables hateful speech and vile dirty tricks. In this election, there are 37 Democratic candidates on the ballot in the 9th Congressional District. Vote for change.
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