I’ve been on the fence about whether or not to make an effort to take this blog/diary/lunatic ranting more public. My thoughts today make me want to keep it more on the private side. Mostly because what’s got me riled up this morning is about people close to me, and how sad they make me sometimes. I know they mean well, but it’s amazingly frustrating to watch them do what they do, and support what they support all at the same time. So I’ll probably keep things private for a while, at least until this gets buried enough that they’d have to read so much to get to it, making it unlikely that it will ever come to light. This is about refugees. More below the fold.
On Point, from wbur radio (broadcast on NPR stations), had a segment yesterday that created a bit of a conflict for me. The story was about migration (of people) and the dangers of migrating through particular parts of the world. On the show, Leonard Doyle, from the International Organization For Migration, described the present time as being in the midst of a boom in migration. The segment starts with the host reading a statistic:
…sixty five million people are now in flight because of war or persecution or terror. It’s considered the largest displacement in human history.”
The guest confirms this to be true, and continues to paint a picture of humans being at a time of mass movement, all because of war or persecution or terror. I don’t doubt that these numbers are true at all, but I have a hard time reconciling them with something I wrote about earlier: that deaths from war, worldwide, are remarkably low these days.
I don’t have an answer for this inconsistency, but, looking at both stories, it appears that people are fleeing their homes at a very high rate (historically), even though combat deaths are markedly low. That makes me think there is some other factor at play. Perhaps it’s the increased communication and awareness of the rest of the world. Perhaps more people see what other cities look like, and are more willing to uproot and try to reach them. I don’t know, but conflicts like these excite me. Maybe I’ll get an answer someday…or I’ll forget all about it by this afternoon.
When I talk to people who support a candidate like Donald Trump, they seem almost completely driven by this crippling fear that the world is on fire, that the United States is falling apart, and that Washington is either helping this happen, or not effectively doing anything about it. I have to say that if I believed all of that was true, I could imagine the appeal of a candidate like Donald Trump. The problem is this: almost none of the fears that these people have are rooted in reality. Let’s take a bit to look at some things that might frighten us.
The story about the exchange between Michelle Fields (a former Breitbart News reporter) and Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski has finally reached the mainstream media. This has been a pretty crazy story, and I think the real story is about how Breitbart News handled the situation (firing Fields, seemingly to maintain their blatantly supportive stance toward Trump), which may or may not become a bigger part of the coverage. Either way, I’m happy that this is all getting some attention, and something this morning on the Today Show was enough to get me to dust off my keyboard and post something here for the first time in more than two weeks.
I wrote a piece a couple of months ago arguing that we are experiencing a very hateful time in our history. Not that we feel like we hate people more than ever before, but that we feel more hated than ever before. For some time, I had connected some of this with a persecution envy that seems to be everywhere, and feels so strange to me, but I’m starting to think that this hatred is stemming from our culture of fear. We are afraid of everything, and so much of what we see tells us that we’re not afraid enough.
I watched this exchange while in the shower this morning [yes, it might be worth re-examining how I spend my shower time, but that’s a whole different conversation]. I hear this all the time. Why aren’t good Muslims doing more to speak out about the bad Muslims? Why aren’t Muslim leaders condemning terrorist attacks?
The problem that I inevitably run into when talking to somebody who asks that question is that no answer is good enough. Ever.
I still haven’t figured out exactly what I want from this blog, so for now it’s just a repository of my thoughts. A place to think things through. Sometimes I do this first on FaceBook. Sometimes I do this only on FaceBook. Sometimes I do it here first, and sometimes it’s only here. This morning I posted the following on FaceBook, and like my earlier post, I wanted to have it here too….in my pseudo-diary.
What we (all) need to realize is that very few people think they’re bigots and very few people are OK with being called bigots. The mental acrobatics needed to evade that label, when calling for an entire religious group to be barred from the country or selectively targeted is pretty impressive, but probably very normal. Being called a bigot will only make people retreat, and stop listening, but I don’t know what else to do, because the bigotry is intolerable.
My earlier post, shared from a friend, makes the point that the things people are saying about Muslims today would sound very much like Nazi propaganda if the word “Muslims” was replaced with “Jews.” But those saying these things, or supporting those who are saying these things, will argue that it’s not the same. It’s not the same because Jews aren’t trying to hurt the United States, and Muslims are. Remember that the Nazi rhetoric convinced a large proportion of Germany that Jews were trying to hurt Germany. Jews were likened to rats that carry disease to the country. The propaganda told people that Jews were shaving their beards to look like other eastern Europeans so they could infiltrate the country, waiting to strike. Jews were trying to spark war.
Trump was on Morning Joe this morning and was asked to respond to the charge that his tone, his proposals, are frightening people. His response was that we should be much more afraid of Muslims than we should be of him. This is the same tactic that was used in the 1930s. Hitler made it clear that if the Jews weren’t stopped, the Aryan peoples will be exterminated.
In a now famous speech, Hitler said (in German, not English), “We see clearly that this war could only end with the extermination of the Germanic peoples, or that Jewry must disappear from Europe. I already said it on September 1, 1939 in the German Reichstag, that this war will not end the way the Jews have foreseen it, namely that the European Aryan peoples will be exterminated; rather the result of this war will be the annihilation of Jewry. For once all the others will not bleed to death alone; for once the ancient Jewish law will come into play: an eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth.”
The message: Jews wand to destroy their way of life. Jews want to annihilate white Europeans. The only answer is to destroy Jews.
This tactic was evil then, and the tactic is evil now. My plea to those I love who may succumb to this rhetoric, who may find ways to justify it: Don’t be on the side of evil. Don’t say, “yeah but…” Don’t say that Muslims ARE trying to hurt America, because when you do that, you’re condemning an entire group of 1.6 billion people for the acts of far less than 1% of them. You’re defining a group by the worst 1% (probably even much less). People say that a few bad apples spoil the bunch, but I’ve eaten lots of apples and I don’t think that’s true at all. You can easily pick out the good apples and enjoy them with honey like it’s Rosh Hashanah. And the bad apples probably aren’t all bad either. Cut off the bruise and the rest could be just fine. Be on the side of good, even if you’re afraid. Please.