My wife and I returned recently from a celebration of diversity at the New Orleans Jazz Fest. Black and white performers lit up a raucous, foot-stomping crowd with blues, traditional “Norleans jazz,” bluegrass, zydeco, gospel.

It felt good, music bonding like it’s supposed to.

Then last weekend, a young man gunned down 10 people, most of them Black, at a Buffalo grocery store. His “manifesto” cited “replacement theory” — championed by the loathsome Tucker Carlson of Fox News and other far right-wing polemicists. It seems white supremacy is under attack by a coordinated effort to make racial, ethnic and religious minorities, particularly immigrants, a majority, thereby somehow damaging American culture.

The bloody rampage in Buffalo shouldn’t surprise us when the bigot Donald Trump, worst president and sorest loser in our history, sows hatred for anyone, including fellow Republicans, who don’t kiss his ring. And some social media elements, following the pattern of Fox, Newsmax, and others, are the least reflective among us, appealing robotically to the racism that’s been there all along. It’s what Jonathan Haidt, in an essay for the Atlantic, called the “twitchy and explosive spread of anger.”

Mix the far right’s outrage machine with Carlson’s fever swamp (he also claims the FBI was behind the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol) and you’ve got not just extreme political tribalism but a very real threat to our fragile democracy.

Dave Griffiths, Mechanic Falls

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