Thursday, September 9, 2010

When Silence Is Not Golden

I don't want to give press to any particular person - especially one who is so far off from what the Bible (and the Q'uran,The Works of Baha'ullah and others) that writing the name of this person would be repugnant to me. However, these are times when we cannot be silent. We have two really terrible habits in this country. One is to so overreact; to want immediate gratification that we let our basest most distemperate part of our psyche take over. The other is to departmentalize people so we can easily dismiss them as being crazy or over the top and thinking it best just to let people go unchallenged because no one will believe what they have to say.

The overreaction usually comes at the expense of a minority. Internment camps, the denial of civil rights, the Arizona law that laughingly is supposed to be an illegal immigrant law but is nothing more but open season on Hispanics or anyone 'looking like an illegal immigrant' except those illegal immigrants who look like 'us.' I tell you, if I was an illegal immigrant from a European country, I'd head straight for Arizona because they'd never stop me.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think you should be here illegally. I think you should make your application just like everyone else. But I am also not so naive as to believe that the problem is just people jumping the border. The reason we're not having this problem with the Canadian border is because there isn't a market for Non-English speaking Canadians who can be exploited. If the Mexican economy was better this wouldn't be as much of a problem. If we had more of a conscious about hiring folks for $3.00 an hour we wouldn't have this much of a problem either. Supply and demand, baby. It's not that Americans don't want those jobs. It's that other Americans would have to pay them minimum wage, perhaps benefits and would have to concern themselves with work conditions.

A friend asked me what the big deal would be if the police saw someone swerving while driving that they pull them over and ask for their papers. I love her dearly but that question is only asked by someone who has no fear of being asked for their papers. She won't ever be pulled over for driving while black, brown or somewhere in between. A swerve for her could very well be just a lane switch for someone else. Pathetic but true.

My dog has papers. My car has papers. In this country, where all men are created equal, humans have rights both explicit and assumed. To insist in treating a sect of the population differently by denying those rights diminishes them for everyone and sets it up that the group that is in power can dehumanize at will and whim.

There is not a law to stop what may go on in Florida on Saturday. This ignorant, hateful act will do nothing but further the causes of hatred in our country and around the world. It also has no useful symbolism. You really want to speak out against radical Islam? Copy the words of the Q'uran where it talks about peace and what it means to be a follower:

O you who have believed, enter into Islam completely [and perfectly] and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy.

The ones whom the angels take in death, [being] good and pure; [the angels] will say, "Peace be upon you. Enter Paradise for what you used to do."

Get huge posters made with the words of peace and tolerance and post those up and show those who would use the book for their terrorizing that their book does not preach their actions. Be more like the church in Memphis who has opened their doors to their Muslim neighbors by letting them use their church building while their mosque is being built. You want to stick it to the radicals? Make nice.

We cannot simply let this pass. We have to speak out. I am not a Obama fanatic but one of the things that happened when he came into office was the world was willing to look at America in a kinder light. We really ticked off all parts of the world and the new president calmed things down a bit. Now between the ultra conservatives and the pundits and Fox news, we are on our way to losing that ground again. Seriously, disappointment in the slow recovery of the economy is not a reason to make our dignity and our conscious take a whipping.

Oddly enough, all the vocal conservatives have very little to say about the proposed book burning. This is what happens when you use the nasty, divisive ploy. Someone comes along and plays it better than you and you are stuck. If you defend it you show just how fractious you're willing to be. If you denounce it, you have to acknowledge the game and how you played it.

So you have to be quiet and hope it doesn't get too out of hand. Too late.
What makes us think that if we are the God fearing folk we profess to be that we won't one day have to explain this to a God who already knows what we were thinking?

Don't be silent. When you see wrong - say it's wrong. You don't have to scream it. Just say so. Folks may still decide to be less than civil - but they should know there are other options.

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