Friday, January 9, 2015

A Path That Leads Nowhere

     Yes, I understand that more and more of us are beginning to feel this way in light of all the terrorist activity in the last many years. The sheer brutality of the radical Muslims who are perpetrating the bombings and the beheadings and burnings makes it difficult not to want to respond in kind. It is so much easier to simply lump all Muslims in one big basket and kill them all...or at the very least, deport them all or refuse to allow any more in to the U.S. or forbid them to build any mosques in our country....or damn, there ought to be something we can do to show our contempt for Islam and every damn freakin' member of that unholy so-called religion!

Except we'd be wrong to do that. Christians right here in good old America have in the past....and actually, not so distant past...performed some pretty horrendous acts. Start back with the genocide of Native Americans and the slavery of black people and the terrible way we treated the Chinese who built our railroads. Think of the segregation and the lynchings and putting Japanese in detention camps and the awful conditions under which we forced migrant workers and their children to labor and live. Think of our discriminatory and cruel treatment of gays. Call Abu Ghraib to mind and the just released torture report and the forced feedings at Guantanamo.

One of Bible's most oft-quoted sayings is: "let he who is without sin cast the first stone". But that's the problem isn't it? I wasn't around for most of what I mentioned above and I certainly didn't approve of the things I was around for even if they were done in my name. I don't deserve to have any stones cast at me, do I, although I am a member of the same race and religion and nation that did them. I'm not responsible for everything that any white person, Christian or American has ever done, am I?

But, essentially, that's what some of us are doing with Muslims.

Unfortunately, the most radical and vicious members of any group will get the most attention, especially when they perform spectacular feats of terrorism like 911 or this latest one in Paris. Most African-Americans don't want to kill cops and most cops don't want to kill African Americans. Most Palestinians don't want to kill Jews and most Jews don't want to kill Palestinians....and most Muslims don't want to kill Christians although the worst among them sometimes make it seem as if they do. (I expect they feel the same way about us what with our various wars and bombings and drone strikes in their countries).

If you are beginning to feel that there is a black thug or a rogue cop or a Muslim terrorist around every corner, you can blame part of that on your news media. A million African-American men can walk peacefully down the street; a million cops can do their jobs with integrity and competence; a million Muslims can raise their families with values like yours and mine but you'll never hear about them as the t.v. goes on hour after hour after hour telling us why we should be terrified...and by extension, hate the ones who are terrifying us.

If that attitude prevails, we will be worse off than we are now. Yes, we must defend and protect ourselves as much as possible. Yes, if that means monitoring some of our phone calls, if it means our intelligence agency tracking likely suspects, if it means paying to give our protectors the most up-dated information gathering equipment, we must do all those things.

But turning on each other? That is a path to nowhere but more hatred and violence.