5 Feb. 2017.
This morning when I woke up (at 5:32 am.) I took a look at the news on my i-Phone. It’s what I do these days. Since Nov. 9 2016 the counsel of Alastor “Mad-eye” Mooney has been my m.o.
If something bad is going down, and let’s be honest, a lot of bad has been going down, I want to be among the first to know.
The news wasn’t as awful as I’d expected. No war has been declared, no martial law, Judge Robart’s stay is still in place, time to take a deep breath and check my Facebook page.
What showed up in the notifications list caused my heart rate, breathing and b.p. to enter a seriously dangerous range. One of my cousins, who is in fact a lovely person and a lot of fun, liked a number of alt.right pages, including a video by your man, Milo. What to do? Unfriend? Discuss? Mock?
There’s literally an ocean between us. I decided to ignore it. Because the cousin in question is a good person at heart. Because I am not in a position to confront my cousin in person and ask what I am dying to know: What are you afraid of?
Some conversations just can’t be held by phone.
I want to know this because my cousin and I aren’t so different. We are from the same crazy family, the same economic background and we grew up in the same general region of the United States. I want to know because I am not afraid and cannot understand where the fear is coming from.
Because we live in a small town with a good sized Muslim population and quite a few refugees and I don’t have a problem with either group. Fact: Baklava is better than most of what passes for Dutch cake and if you can get it home-made instead of store bought, it’s even better. Store bought is ok in a pinch.
Because I’ve worked with and am friends with people of all faiths and nationalities and they don’t hate me for the military actions taken by the United States in the name of “freedom” which worked out badly for them personally. True story: I walked into the women’s center where I worked in the early 2000’s one April morning after a laser guided missle went stray into an Afghanistan civilian area and the first person I saw was Prof. W. (a refugee). I don’t cry easily, but at that moment I burst into tears of remorse and shame for what my country had just done to hers. That woman, whose infinite grace and dignity I admire to this day, put her arms around me and said, “It is not your fault.”
By the same token, it is not the fault of people seeking refuge from war torn areas that a group of nutjobs who happen to claim the Muslim faith decided to pick on the United States on Sept. 11 2001 with devastating results. The little Syrian boy who was too shocked to cry after he was pulled from his bombed home is not a threat to anybody. The families of brave interpreters who helped the United States forces are not threats to your safety. The “dreamers” have a lot to offer, let them show what they can do.
Because when I walk into the Turkish grocery and say “Merhaba!”, the clerks who don’t know me start telling me all sorts of stuff in Turkish and don’t realize that “Merhaba” is one of the few Turkish words I know. They see dark hair and eyes, olive skin and they make assumptions. Then I look confused and we laugh and switch over to Dutch.
Because people want to share their culture doesn’t mean they want to replace your culture with theirs.
Because of algebra, baba ganouj, Hasan Minhaj, Najib Amhali, Malala Yousafzai, Nizar Qabbani, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Iman, Justin Amash (Republican, but I like him), astronaut Anousheh Ansari, M. Asador, my Syrian tailor, and lots of other great humans with Muslim roots or from the 7 countries falling under the (currently stayed) travel ban. See more below:
Because you’re more likely to be shot by a toddler or killed by a DUI than harmed in any way by an immigrant or refugee. Refugee does not = terrorist, nor does immigrant = terrorist.
Because people standing together despite their differences are better than and will triumph over hatred.
Because it started with “jodenhaat” in the 1930s and I’m counting on the good people of the world not to be so stupid as to let that happen again. Anybody could be next.