Troy's Take: Counter Darkness With Light

Troy ClarksonAmy Rader Photographer - Troy Clarkson

The news last week that founder of the hate-mongering Westboro Baptist Church Fred Phelps passed away stirred many emotions in many people. Phelps and his followers, whose protests at military funerals and other public venues could be construed in no other way than spreading an intolerant, detestable message of animosity and revulsion, came to symbolize the division in our nation on a variety of issues, including race, gay rights, and even military intervention in the Middle East. Phelps’s protests also galvanized supporters of various groups preaching a much more moderate message of love, tolerance and acceptance. 

Whatever the ultimate message of his misguided and unfortunately odious life, the issues highlighted in news coverage of the Westboro Baptist Church were largely considered “over the bridge” issues, because save for a couple of uneventful visits by the Westboro believers to Cape Cod over the years, the machinations of Phelps’s followers were generally news items of national interest, but not of local significance, as our sagacious sandbar wouldn’t tolerate or promulgate that sort of behavior. 

If only that were true.

A story emerged locally around the same time as his death and tells a similar unfortunate and sinister tale and demonstrates that hatred is indeed in our midst, and that our sandbar, as sagacious as it may be, can still propagate hate.   

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The Mashpee Enterprise reported recently that Kyle Hunt, a 2002 graduate and student standout at Mashpee High School, is now a leader of a “white only” movement that provides an eye-opening and chilling reminder that we are not immune to Westboro-esque abhorrence here on the Cape. While a student and engaged citizen in Mashpee, Hunt was, according to the Enterprise account, in the Mashpee High School Class of 2002 yearbook, named “Most Likely to Succeed” and one of two students having the “Most School Spirit.” He was the class valedictorian, co-chairman of the school council, and the student representative to the Mashpee School Committee. He also played on the football, lacrosse, and track and field teams. By all accounts, he was the kind of kid who becomes a leader, a doer, a “go-to” guy.

Today, Hunt hosts a radio show on an Internet radio station fittingly called “Renegade Broadcasting,” where his show, “The Blitzkrieg Broadcast” shares his “pro-white message,” as he noted to the Enterprise. Hunt acknowledges that he did not espouse any of his extremist views during his formative years in Mashpee, but his stature as a leader of a pro-white (read intolerant) movement demonstrates that no region, no community is immune to distasteful and offensive behavior. Hunt is organizing a “White Man March,” an event that, in his own words, will demonstrate how “white people are united in their love for their race and their opposition to its destruction.”

Kyle, in case you read this, and just so you know, I’m united in love with all people, and am opposed to the destruction of humanity through myopic and dangerous views like yours. I don’t get along with everyone, and I certainly have my detractors, as I offer opinions on our community and our society that are designed to get people to think. But my opinions are designed to stimulate respectful and meaningful debate. I’m struggling to find respect and meaning in your message.

Our collective solution is to counter the darkness with light. 

I’m attending the wedding of a dear friend this summer. In fact, I’ll have the honor of officiating and helping him unite in marriage with his soulmate. It’s his third wedding; his first two produced four beautiful sons. Those first two were to women. This one is to a man. I will stand with them and have the gift to perform the ceremony and share in their proclamation of love and devotion. That’s the kind of “united in love” that we should celebrate. If the Westboro Baptist Church or the Blitzkreig Broadcast have a problem with that, it’s weighing on their souls, not mine.

Kyle Hunt’s problem is hate. My solution is love.

(Mr. Clarkson may be contacted at votetroy99@aol.com and followed on Twitter @TroyClarkson59.)

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