With so many people in the country screaming for political correctness in every aspect of our daily lives it seems no one can voice their honest opinion about anything without being labeled. Some people are so afraid of offending someone else that they won't express themselves openly for fear of being called a bigot or a racist or some other form of hater. And may who throw those names around do so seemingly without conscience or even facts. If you voice an opinion that disagrees with theirs you are given a name and dismissed as irrational.
This has been building over the years but it seems to have truly come to light since the election of our first African-American President. In my lifetime of 55 years I have never seen more racial division except maybe in the early 60s. In 2008, Americans elected Barack Obama to the Office of the President of the United States. He didn't win 80 or 90 percent of the total vote but he won the majority of electoral votes that put him in office. Back when Dr. Martin Luther King was still alive I knew that in my lifetime I would see a black man elected President one day. Mr. Obama was a surprise only because he was an unknown to most of us. He was also a surprise because he expressed liberal, left-wing views (such as sharing the wealth) and won anyway. Sadly, those who opposed him were often labeled as racists even when you could easily voice your disagreement with what he stood for and what he wanted to do to "fundamentally transform America." Labeling someone a racist is easy - you don't have to think about it. You can put everyone in the same category and ignore what they're saying simply by putting a label on it.
Certainly I know a few people who oppose President Obama because he's black. That's not their only reason but it is definitely one of them. They are wrong to believe that way. Racism should have no part in American politics nor in American everyday life. In the year 2012, hating someone because of skin color is ridiculous. Life is complicated enough.
Along the same line, the recent gay marriage controversy involving Chick-fil-A caused an uproar that led to people screaming that if you disagree with gay marriage you simply hate gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders. But since when did one's personal opposition to something transform into hatred? Many Christians believe in the Biblical and religious definition of marriage between a man and a woman. They believe marriage is ordained by God and that homosexual marriage goes against the teachings of the Bible. Believing that does not mean that Christians hate homosexuals, etc. The Bible says love everyone equally but it doesn't say accept and agree with everything anyone wants to do to prove that love. Christians are commanded to love sinners but are not commanded to love sin.
Atheists believe there is no such thing as God. They completely disagree with the notion of religion and believe Christians are misinformed and just plain wrong. So does that mean atheists hate all Christians? I don't think so. And I don't believe they'd be happy to be labeled a hate group simply because they don't agree with the Bible or Christianity. So why does it seem one group can oppose something and not be labeled and another group is automatically labeled for their disagreement? I'm thinking it all depends on who's doing the labeling.
One other point I want to discuss is Islam and Islamaphobia. Those of us who believe Islam to be a threat to the United States (and even the world) base our beliefs on worldwide actions of Islamic terrorists and on the teachings of the Quran. Granted, there are many Muslims in the world who do not participate in terrorist acts and have no desire to kill as many infidels as possible. However, of the millions of Muslims in the world there are precious few who will stand up and say "No more. We will not tolerate the violence any longer." There are certainly enough radical, terrorist types to make the world a very dangerous place and they are everywhere - even inside our own nation. Islam is not a religion of peace. Religions of peace do not kill people for disagreement. They do not stone a woman who has been raped because she is no longer clean. Religions of peace do not kill their children for the "honor" of the family. And they don't go around threatening to wipe a country off the face of the Earth simply because that country is not Islamic.
Yes, there are many of us who believe Islam is a powerful threat to all of us. Does that mean we hate Islam? I've been accused of it. I don't hate anyone.
If you want to be my neighbor and friend I will judge you by how you act and how you present yourself to me rather than your political, religious, or even sexual preferences. If I disagree with you I'll tell you up front that's the case. I won't ridicule you or chastise you for your beliefs (unless we're in a good natured discussion about them) but neither do I expect you to do it to me. I may disagree with you on several things and you may disagree with me on more. But there is a huge difference between disagreeing with someone's beliefs and hating them because of it.
The hatred does exist. I'm not naive enough to believe it doesn't. But it's not the majority of people who carry this hatred. And those who are quick to pass out labels need to understand that.