Opinion: The “Family Values” Crowd Doesn’t Respect My Family

Walter Rhein

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The first story I wrote that went viral came in 2016. My wife is an immigrant, and my family speaks Spanish in public. Over the last few years, there has been an increase in anti-immigrant sentiment.

My wife and children have often had to endure disrespectful and aggressive behavior. I’ve had people stomp up to my kids and scream, “This is America, we speak English here.”

The amusing this is that many Americans are ignorant of the fact that America has no official language. Most Americans also don’t know that America has more Spanish speakers than Spain.

There is a whole political movement in the United States that claims to stand for “family values.” My question is: why don’t they value my family?

Years ago, when I still spoke with conservatives, I accompanied a group of them to a local restaurant. Somebody posed the question, “Who here believes in Jesus Christ?”

All of the conservatives raised their hand.

I smiled and asked, “Who here has been divorced?”

Again, all of the conservatives raised their hand. One of them started sputtering about how his divorce “wasn’t his fault.”

I think that’s the thing that frustrates me the most about people who claim to respect “family values.” They always demand that other people behave a certain way, and then they allow for exceptions for themselves.

I’ll often get people in the comments section of my articles who mention my family in a way that’s designed to be threatening. They like to trickle out pieces of information as if suggesting that they are thinking of coming after me.

These are the same people who like to tell me about all the rifles they own. They like to make sure I know that the AR in AR-15 stands for “ArmaLite” and not “assault.” I think at this point, even Mr. Rodgers knows that, but they keep repeating it anyway because they think it’s an effective way to “own” the people who disagree with them.

Among some groups in the United States, owning a rifle is equated with family values. How can anyone justify thinking children are safer when they are forced to live next to a tool of mass murder?

Some people say they need guns to “protect” their families. However, statistical evidence shows people are most likely to hurt themselves or somebody they love with a gun than a potential attacker.

Everything I believe in is in support of family values. I want my wife and children to have unrestricted access to reproductive health care. I want my wife and my children to have access to books. I want my family to be able to live in a free country where they are allowed to vote. I want their votes to be counted. I want the results of free elections to be respected.

Some people will read that preceding paragraph and disagree with everything in it. Those people will go on to send me insults and death threats. They’ll claim that my position is “radical.” Finally, they’ll insist that they stand for “family values.”

If you send people threatening messages, you do not stand for “family values.”

Everybody can admit that the United States of America is divided. One way of bringing our country back together is to bring common sense back into the mainstream. If you run around threatening people with guns, you don’t stand for a message of peace and tolerance.

You stand for threats.

You stand for bullying.

You stand for authoritarianism.

Is it asking too much to expect people not to descend to the level where they make threats against women and children? I’d like to see every church in the country denounce these actions, which have become far too commonplace.

There’s no need to start in with the “what about” excuses. This is a cut-and-dried issue. Don’t threaten anyone’s family. There’s nothing “kind and decent” about being a bully.

Respecting "family values" should mean respecting the rights every man, woman, and child has to live without being attacked for how they look, what language they speak, or what they believe.

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Walter Rhein is an author with Perseid Press. He also does a weekly column for The Writing Cooperative on Medium.

Chippewa Falls, WI

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