I spent much of Wednesday trying to write a letter about my outrage and disgust at the Islamophobia spewing forth from public figure after public figure in America.
I won’t call them leaders. They are not leaders.
Everyday the news seems to get worse. Most days I try to ignore it, which I know is a luxury of white privilege, but I am trying to keep myself from getting an ulcer. Or to keep the one I probably have already from bleeding.
But two comments made this week put me over the edge: Donald Trump saying he would ban all Muslims from entering the United States, and Jerry Falwell Jr. encouraging Christians to carry concealed weapons for the purpose of murdering Muslims.
These comments are ludicrous and asinine. But sadly, they are not isolated comments. They are a part of a much larger wave of anti-Muslim rhetoric that is engulfing our nation.
With this last comment from Trump, I felt like something shifted - like we just crossed the line between hate speech and Nazi propaganda.
The Daily Show, with their typical brilliance, made this connection:
“Donald Trump is an extremist leader who came out of nowhere, he's self-financed, recruits through social media, attracts his followers with a radical ideology to take over the world and is actively trying to promote a war between Islam and the West … That's right Trevor, Donald Trump is White ISIS."
It is funny because it is true.
The satirical new site thefreewoodpost.com posted an article saying that the Southern Poverty Law center had officially designated the Trump Campaign as a hate group.
I really wish they would. The SPLC did, however, make this statement:
“Donald Trump’s call for a 'total and complete shutdown' of Muslims entering the United States is just the latest example of the extreme, anti-Muslim rhetoric that has reached a fever pitch this year. Trump relies on a debunked poll by the Center for Security Policy, headed by conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney. This organization irresponsibly portrays all Muslims as extremists and is at the forefront of a well-funded effort to vilify Muslims in the United States with misinformation and demonizing rhetoric and to instill a climate of fear. The mainstreaming of hate and extremism is dangerous to the millions of peaceful Muslims in our country and harmful to the fabric of our society – our responsible political leaders should condemn this bigotry.” – Heidi Beirich, Director of SPLC's Intelligence Project
The problem is not only that these public figures are saying ridiculously horrible things. It is that so many Americans are agreeing with them. The bigotry and racism that usually lies just bellow the surface has been given permission to show itself freely.
Of course, racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia walk around in the bodies of white people, particularly white men, all the time, resulting in the killing and terrorizing of many. But as we all know, those are never called acts of “Christian extremist terrorists.” They are just the individual acts of another mentally unstable white man with easy access to guns. No outrage against "those people"...
I worked on this letter all day. I struggled to find words to describe how I felt, to say something meaningful, to make some sense, to name and distance myself, my faith, my America from these fucking crazy people.
I wrote five drafts.
All I could think was, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good [people] to do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)
As I worked throughout the day, letters and petitions from faith leaders, seminaries, churches, and other organizations started rolling out all over social media. Another petition or another letter appeared every ten minutes. I was grateful. I signed three of them.
Later, over dinner, I chatted with our houseguest about the day. We currently have a young man living with us. He is an asylum seeker. He is twenty-seven years old. He is Muslim. In a very short period of time he has become like family. Each day he tells us more of his story—his stories. He has seen more hell in twenty-seven years than most people see in a lifetime.
I talked about trying to write the letter and how upset I was. He talked about how he is scared to tell people he is Muslim. How he hasn’t gone to a mosque since coming to America because he doesn’t feel safe. But, he said, he just has to keep going. He has come too far to turn back now.
This is the choice, isn’t it? This is the choice we all must make again and again. Buy into the fear that some are selling and focus all your hate on the people they are saying we should blame.
Just don’t. Don’t give up. Don’t succumb to the fear. Speak the truth. Choose love in the face of the worst the world has to offer. Hold on to love.
Instead of a writing a letter denouncing Donald Trump, which many others seem to have well in hand, I decided to write letters to the Mosques in Baltimore. Mosques all over the country and the world are receiving hate mail. Maybe we can start a “love mail” campaign. Maybe if enough of us speak out in love, we can drown out the hate. #lovemail