"I was drunk and didn't know what I was doing."

Everyone has seen overindulgence of alcohol used as a shield against allegations of bad behavior. Even those who aren't trying to excuse unacceptable words or acts with a claim of intoxication are nevertheless trying to offer it as a reason. They wouldn't have done it otherwise, they insist.

But everyone knows that's not really accurate. Yes, alcohol can be a factor in loosening the tongue – or hands or other body parts – of a person normally held in check by sobriety and societal norms. But the truth is, the aggressor still internally wishes to be doing or saying those terrible things, and even tacitly sanctions them. Alcohol doesn't make a man a predator; it just allows his sexual aggression to more readily bubble to the surface.

In Atlanta last week, several people died – this time, Asian Americans, who have increasingly become targets of radicalized hate groups due to the drumbeat of rhetoric blaming COVID-19 on a seemingly deliberate ploy by the Chinese. The suspect in the Atlanta case went so far as to blame a sex addition for his murderous spree. That doesn't wash; something else is at the root of his perversion.

The same must be said about racism or other types of bigotry. An imbalance of blood sugar does not make one racist, misogynistic, anti-LGBTQ, anti-Semitic, or an enemy of all Muslims. However, it might briefly lower the diabetic's inhibitions enough to outwardly express what is already on his mind. The bigotry was there to begin with.

The racist comments made last weekend by a local man at a high school girls basketball team for kneeling in support of Black Lives Matter were shocking and offensive, and they laid bare the fact that Martin Luther King Jr.'s "dream" is far from being realized. As King well knew, bigotry doesn't have to be physically violent, or verbally hateful. But even tempered with soft tones and pity for the plight of those we deem lesser than ourselves is still racism – and just as hurtful, and as wrong.

Overcoming prejudice is not easy, because it's usually taught in families and passed down through the generations. That's why it must be fought aggressively, willfully, and with a purpose and definitive goal. Shedding bigotry is far more difficult when the afflicted individual was raised that way, and has observed others engaging in repugnant behavior. It requires education, empathy, and an open heart and mind. It could mean alienation from cherished family and friends who refuse to walk along the path of righteousness. It could be a lonely journey, at least for a while.

But it's worth it, as anyone who has shed the scales of hate – either passive or aggressive – can attest. Moving into the light lifts an almost indescribable weight off the shoulders – one replaced with a clarity that feels suspiciously like love for one's fellow humans. And it is the best thing anyone can do to individually advance the ultimate goal: "And on earth peace, good will toward all people."

There really is a reason why people kneel, and folks who understand not just constitutional rights, but human decency, are going to have to come to terms with it.

— Tahlequah Daily Press

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