I can't help it. In the 60's we were taught to "question authority," but I think I was born to question popular opinion. Hence my probably foolish need to wonder how we who aspire to be tolerant and understanding choose to apportion those qualities of mercy.
When someone commits a hateful, despicable act, we usually respond by asking what it was in that person's life that drove him to such desperate measures. Was the school shooter the victim of bullies? Did the man attack his former workplace because he had recently been fired? Was the Islamic terrorist driven over the edge by his country's repressive policies and grinding poverty, or by American bombings, or by Hollywood's aggressive immorality? Was the abuser himself abused as a child? Why do they hate us? Without justifying ill behavior, collectively we seem to feel a need to understand, to mitigate, even to excuse the otherwise inexplicable actions of our fellow human beings.
I'll admit to have been having far too much fun with our 10 grandchildren to catch more than a few, fleeting references to recent news. What I hear disturbs me almost as much as the events themselves. Suddenly there seems to be a class of actions and ideologies—and a thousand times worse, of people—from whom we are withholding any attempt at understanding.
That the ideologies of white supremacy and Nazism are heinous I will heartily agree. But I will not, I cannot, condemn them more than a hundred other appalling ideologies that our society seems much less anxious to repudiate. It isn't honest, it isn't fair, and it isn't right.