America: Because we've gotta hate someone

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 16, 2010, 11:11 PM | comments: 0

Do you ever feel like our country is doomed to make the same mistakes over and over? With this whole mosque/community center thing in Manhattan, it sure feels like it. That people stand and wave a flag while denouncing freedom of religion is troubling. That people associate an entire religion (and the billion and a half people who practice said religion) with a terrorist attack is scary and stupid. It's a lot like blaming me for snow in Seattle because I moved here from Ohio.

On one hand, I think the president was stupid for even getting involved, but making a statement to uphold one of the most fundamental rights of the Constitution, and frankly the basis for founding the nation in the first place, is probably his duty. That the Republican mayor of New York has also spoken up is encouraging as well. I was relieved today to see on the news some outspoken family members of 9/11 victims speak out against the madness.

What's crazy about it is that the darkest parts of our young nation's history just keeps repeating over and over. Settlers moved west and kept pushing back the native "savages" early on. Black people were kept as slaves. Women weren't allowed a voice in government. A hundred years passed and we were still segregating people by race. In recent decades it became fashionable to beat up gay people and treat would-be immigrants that wanted the work no one else would do as criminals. Today, in difficult economic times, the most obvious choice of people to hate has become Muslims. Sadly, some things never change.

The really ironic thing is that some of these haters are the same people who will cheer on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are/were primarily raised for the purpose of liberating Islamic populations from dictatorships (Iraq) or extremists and terrorists (Afganistan). The same senators giving the president crap right now are those insisting we stay involved in those wars until the job gets done. Irony at its best (or worst).

In some cases, it feels like we've come so far. That I had no concept of color growing up in the inner city is a win. If Simon grows up here in the Northwest, he'll be no stranger to diversity, and that's a win. That I have friends who can be out with a reasonable degree of safety is an improvement. Sometimes I need to remember that it shouldn't be taken for granted that 50 years ago your skin color designated your seat on the bus. It's important to keep some healthy perspective.

But I don't care for the divisiveness in our culture at all. There's a very big difference between political discourse and difference for the sake of difference. When people are motivated by fear and uncertainty, they do stupid things. We don't need that.

As a side note, I know I've mentioned before that I'm actually rooting for the Republicans to get their shit together, to bring balance to The Force, but it looks like they're failing at that again with this whole thing around the president's statements. You can't keep screaming "Constitution!" only when it's convenient. How these guys haven't already painted themselves as bigots is beyond me, but there's little doubt that it's only going to hurt the party more.



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