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Representative Joseph Almeida: WNRI’s Dionne Owes Minority Groups an Apology



When we first elected President Barack Obama, I believe we came so far; made so many strides, and the future was brighter than ever. However, I was wrong. With the election of Mr Donald Trump, I feel like that progress has been replaced with somber regression. We are ever more divided along racial lines, and the hate groups feel more embodied than ever.

I hoped that Trump’s divisive, racist and hurtful rhetoric would not touch Rhode Island – I was wrong. I’ve heard Rhode Island radio talk host John DePetro defend Trump’s every divisive word. I witnessed the Rhode Island GOP paralyzed by fear about speaking out against this bigoted president. The most pronounced example is radio host Mr John Dionne’s comments declaring he is a “White Nationalist” on a recent radio broadcast.

It is not difficult to find what it means to be a “White Nationalist.” Merriam Webster defines a “White Nationalist” as “one of a group of militant whites who espouse white supremacy and advocate enforced racial segregation.” Hate groups like the KKK say “White Nationalist” in place of “White Supremacist” because it has less negative connotations. Does Dionne view himself as a member of a “militant” white group that embraces “racial segregation?”

Adding insult to injury, Dionne called himself a “White Nationalist” while discussing the horrific Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville. This is an event featuring varying hate groups, and which led to the death of an innocent woman. Trump would later go on to say about the rally that there were “very fine people” on both sides – including the Neo-Nazis. I cannot believe we have a sitting president that finds it a challenge to condemn Nazis.

I want to make this clear: I don’t think Dionne is a racist. I just don’t think he understands what he is saying, and how hurtful such rhetoric is to our minority community. I am a minority, and I was personally disgusted when I heard him embrace this hateful ideology. His ignorance is only creating more divisiveness and fueling hatred towards minority groups.

Can we please ask a favor?

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All is not lost for Dionne. He should immediately apologize, condemn white nationalist groups like the KKK, and make a donation to a non-profit that embraces diversity. He should also be more conscious about what he says in the future. This would go a long way in proving this was a sincere misunderstanding, and salvaging his reputation.

I pray Dionne finds it in himself to do the right thing for our wonderful state, and our minority community. Words have meaning, and in the age of Trump, bigoted rhetoric has consequences as we found out in Charlottesville. Hateful rhetoric should have no place in Rhode Island!

Mr Joe Almeida is the Rhode Island State Representative for the 12th District representing South Side and Washington Park in Providence.

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