“No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them.”
Do you ever feel alone, alone in the sense that you feel yourself to be an outlier? That in your group, your family, and your religious circle or within your political affiliates that on “big picture deliberations” you think differently than the rest? Is there something wrong with me? Why can’t I be like them, behave like them, react as they do to the environmental stimuli that is common to our coterie?
On the one hand, differences are what make us human and individualistically unique. Sometimes, I say to myself that I am glad that I don’t think as my cohort does and many of them I am sure opine as they read these words; “here goes Stuart again, he just doesn’t get it.” Or, those that know me may mutter to himself or herself disbelievingly, “What ever happened to him?”
So here I go.
I am observing a significant rise in unconcealed racism across the USA and in Canada – hopefully not an earth-shattering revelation. Over what period of time you may be wondering? Let’s say in the last half a year. The fact that not everyone agrees is obvious yet disturbing to many others and me. I am not necessarily positing a cause of the racism, just the recent increased frequency of it.
Is it just me?
An alleged and heavily armed white racist walks into a mosque in a suburb of Quebec City murdering six Muslim worshippers. Numerous Jewish cemeteries have been vandalized across the USA and multiple bomb threats phoned into Jewish Community Centres in the USA and in Canada. In a Kansas bar two East Indian men are shot with one dying in the attack. The motive? The white perp mistakenly thought they were both Muslim yelling, “Get out of my country” as he took aim! And listening to the announcement for the creation of Homeland Security’s V.O.I.C.E. – Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement, an immigrant only crime reporting structure sent chills down my spine. Shall I go on? In the past few months the unrelenting list of hate inspired; statements, executive orders, posts, rants, tweets, threats and tangible violence has swelled beyond anything recognizable in decades. And this: The following is a tweet this week by Steve King, a Republican sitting member of the House of Representatives from Iowa, “We can’t restore our civilization with someone else’s babies”. That tweet was in support of Dutch leader of the Party for Freedom – Geert Wilders, who can at minimum be described as an extreme nationalist.
These facts are irrefutable. They are not “alt-facts”, this is not “fake news”, and this is what is happening. The dead Muslim shooting victims are in fact dead and were buried. Family members did in fact find their relatives gravestones toppled and the aggrieved families did not bring it on themselves as had been suggested. Oh, the ban on Muslim entry into the USA (from the now six Muslim countries – down from the original seven – how did one country become good so quickly?) to ward off the rise in terrorism on USA soil, well, there has been no such causal rise in terrorism in the USA (yes, many will say it is a pre-emptive action however with limited justification). FACT. Most if not feasibly all Mexican illegal immigrants are neither rapists nor criminals. FACT. But someone of importance, in a position of power is instigating and spreading this hate via lies and innuendo or worse, turning a blind eye as it goes on unopposed under his nose. This new American leadership is spinning a racial web of mistrust and malicious insinuation. These actions have tapped into the hate, intolerance and ignorance that indeed EXISTED six months prior. It is not new. But the underbelly of society that has been harbouring such tenacious racism has been liberated and has come out from the xenophobic rocks under which they dwelled.
Is it just me?
On the brighter side … I believe that all this must lead to a brighter side.
Something is changing. The apex is approaching. I am beginning to see harmony “outside” my group whatever that group is. Imagine, me, a Jewish would-be writer in Toronto being on common ground with a White Methodist farmer in Wyoming? Picture an African-American Catholic teacher in Detroit united against hate with an Atheist LGBTQ investment banker in Tampa? A laid-off Lutheran Pennsylvanian coal-miner and a Muslim Syrian refugee who works at McDonalds in Saskatoon both being on the same page if-you-will united as human beings, both blind to our physical and cultural differences. It is happening. But it needs more of all of us to break down the barriers and the walls of intolerance towards those not like us … whoever the us is.
Many have seen it before OR it was our forebears who bore witness. We have a collective responsibility to stop it and call it out for what we recognize once again.
Is it just me?