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Opinion: Spreading of lies, hatred must stop
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Rohan Bailey, right, joins a group of protesters Friday, July 10, 2020, in Lula at the Nails @ The Rails nail salon to protest the business. A patron of the business claims to have heard the owner make racially insensitive remarks to a customer. - photo by Scott Rogers

Growing up, I loved musicals. “Oklahoma,” “The King & I” and “The Sound of Music” all wove in its story characters with conflict, but in the end love and integrity won. Beautiful songs enhanced the scenario, which reinforced the story plot.

From “South Pacific” one song gave a troubling message: “You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught.” The background of the song is one of the main actors falls in love with a Frenchman, whose deceased wife was a Polynesian woman, and whom he had children by.

The song goes:

“You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear/You’ve got to be taught from year to year/It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear/You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid of people/Whose eyes are oddly made/And people whose skin is a different shade/You’ve got to be carefully taught.”

The play’s message of tolerance focused on race and romance, but it also encompasses class, religion, gender.

Now, we come to the political division within our country. Not just bigotry and race but continuing lies, conspiracies and growing rhetoric of misinformation continually spoken by extremists and publicized under cover of our First Amendment.

We are not immune to hate groups in Georgia. The Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, American Patriots 3%, John Birch Society and others have infiltrated media reporting and social platforms. Repetition of lies, such as the stolen election or COVID is a hoax goes to the forefront of indoctrinating a segment of our country that sees these lies communicated by alternative media sources.

You have to be carefully taught.

When Americans lose faith in our government, especially when indifferent political officials continue spreading lies, conspiracy theories and degrading of ethnicity, we lose democracy itself. It’s time we bring back respect, integrity and truth to government. That will only be achieved when elected officials and the media, albeit print, social, online, TV/radio publicly call out lies and conspiracies and stop allowing space that is consuming too many of our citizens.

Virginia Webb


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