As the birth of Christ is celebrated all over the United States, we’d do well to live by his example.
Words I never thought I would utter:
“Honey, help me remember to bring the “women against hate” sign to the solidarity event at the mosque tomorrow.”
Politics does make for strange bedfellows, but the one thing that unites people like us is our belief that we are all one people. As someone I love said the other day:
“I believe that we are one people. There are bad Christians, but not all Christians are bad. There are bad Muslims but not all Muslims are bad. There are bad white people, but not all white people are bad. There are bad black people, but not all black people are bad.”
Fear of differences
But we’ve had a long, national history of xenophobia. It’s no accident that the word is dictionary.com’s word of the year. It means fear or hatred of foreigners, people from different cultures, or strangers.
And that’s the thing. It’s xenophobia that makes us demonize those not like us. If someone from a different culture sins, the entire demographic is painted with that same brush.
My grandparents faced xenophobia in the early part of the 20th century, when Italian immigrants were refused jobs. They were swarthy and considered dirty. They were illiterate and uneducated and considered stupid. Those were my grandparents, part of my gene pool. Discriminated against.
Xenophobia isn’t new. But by now we should know better. Things should have changed. But instead of changing, people in our country are taking it to a new level. A more extreme level.
I was standing in a grocery line the other day wondering what would happen if someone started slinging around the N word or began insulting women or others. I would want to say something. But what if that person were armed? Because thanks to the NRA lobby, just about anyone can get armed.
In another day I might think, “oh, Carol, don’t be silly. Your worry is groundless.” But these days I doubt anyone would consider those thoughts inappropriate.
Hate crimes are on the rise. We attended a quiet, solemn solidarity event at a nearby mosque, one of many across the nation that received hate mail last month. The letters called for genocide, saying that Trump would “cleanse America” and do to Muslims what Hitler did to Jews. The event was put together by local activists, with the approval of the imam. It was a respectful event with more than 60 peaceful participants. A number of members of the mosque came out to shake hands and thank us. The mosque even brought out a case of bottled water for participants. Drivers that passed mostly ignored the group, although a few honked and waved in support and at least one slowed down, frowned in disapproval and gunned his engine, speeding up the street. After we left (early, as I had a Skype class) a potentially violent man showed up and wasn’t very nice.
A pall of hate has fallen over our country. Xenophobia and hatred of those different have been legitimized by the incoming administration. You’re damn right I’m bitter about about it and I’m not going to get over it any time soon. Our American values have been pushed down in favor of hatred. I just can’t stand for that or the people responsible for that.
I’m going to close by telling you a story about a visit we had with an imam in Morocco a few years ago. It was nothing like I thought it would be and you can read about it here. I hope you will.
And then, how this happened:
Lies and more lies
“Like Goebbels before them, conservatives understood that they had to create their own facts, their own truths, their own reality. They have done so, and in so doing effectively destroyed the very idea of objectivity. Trump can lie constantly only because white America has accepted an Orwellian sense of truth — the truth pulled inside out.” That, from journalist Neal Gabler.
“The media can’t be let off the hook for enabling an authoritarian to get to the White House. Long before he considered a presidential run, he was a media creation — a regular in the gossip pages, a photo on magazine covers, the bankrupt (morally and otherwise) mogul who hired and fired on The Apprentice. When he ran, the media treated him not as a candidate, but as a celebrity, and so treated him differently from ordinary pols. The media gave him free publicity, trumpeted his shenanigans, blasted out his tweets, allowed him to phone in his interviews, fell into his traps and generally kowtowed until they suddenly discovered that this joke could actually become president. ”
If there is a single sentence that characterizes the election, it is this: “He says the things I’m thinking.” That may be what is so terrifying. Who knew that so many tens of millions of white Americans were thinking unconscionable things about their fellow Americans? Who knew that tens of millions of white men felt so emasculated by women and challenged by minorities? Who knew that after years of seeming progress on race and gender, tens of millions of white Americans lived in seething resentment, waiting for a demagogue to arrive who would legitimize their worst selves and channel them into political power? Perhaps we had been living in a fool’s paradise. Now we aren’t.