Tuesday, May 30, 2017

My Two Cents: Stop Hate. Say Something.

I remember shortly after starting in my current job the co-worker who had met Carlos and told me what a sweetheart he was and how lucky I was to have him; whenever Carlos came into my job she’d give him a big hug and call him ‘Baby’.

Then, one day, I overheard her ranting about ‘dirty’ Mexicans being thieves and lowlifes and all kinds of terrible things. I was going to let it go, but couldn’t; I said to her, “You know Carlos is Mexican, right?”

And she replied, “Yeah, but he’s one of the ‘good’ ones.”

I was taken aback because this was a Black woman, whom I’m sure had heard people talk about the ‘good’ blacks and the ‘bad’ blacks and yet she was falling into that same trap.

A person isn’t good or bad because of their skin color or where they’re from or how they dress or who they love; people are good, or bad, because that’s the kind of people they are.

I felt better for having said something; I also felt better the day, earlier this year, when another co-worker said something about white people are not being shot by the police during routine traffic stops because “white people don’t act like that.”

And I told her that I was done with any conversation with her that I deemed unnecessary; work conversations were fine, but that was the end.

And we’ve all seen the videos of people in department stores and grocery stores and Starbucks, ranting and raging about those that are ‘different,’ be they Muslim or Mexican or gay or whatever seems to be outside the so-called norm.

This is America in the Age of _____, where people now feel free to say whatever they want to whomever they want, to hate simply for the sake of hate, anyone they choose, because we have a president who ran a campaign on hate.

Muslims are terrorists, he said, and he vowed to keep ‘them’ out of this country.

Mexicans are drug dealers and rapists, he said, and he promised to build a wall between ‘us’ and ‘them.’

Women are sex objects, and you can grab ‘em and kiss, and grope ‘em, he said, because you’re rich.

So are we surprised that more people are acting this way? I mean, they’ve been given a pass by the President, for Christ’s sake. A man who said, with a smile, that he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and still win an election; a man who mocked a disabled reporter because that reporter dared to criticize him.

And mow, because of _____, because this is America in the Age of _____, two men are dead, and one is in the hospital, because they said something to stop the hate.

Last week, in Portland, Oregon, aboard a MAX train, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, top, and Ricky John Best, middle, were stabbed to death because they tried to stop another man, Jeremy Joseph Christian, who was “ranting and raving” and shouting anti-Muslim hate speech at two young women, one wearing a hijab.

You know, Muslims ... terrorists.

A third man, Micah David-Cole Fletcher, botom, also intervened and was stabbed, but it looks like he’ll survive the attack.

It all began when Jeremy Joseph Christian began yelling what a witness said “would best be characterized as hate speech toward a variety of ethnicities and religions.” Some of Christian’s slurs were directed at two female passengers, one of whom was wearing a hijab.

When Ricky Best and Taliesin Meche tried to calm Christian down, he attacked them both, stabbing each man, and then stabbing Fletcher, who had also stepped in to help. Ricky Best was pronounced dead at the scene; Namkai Meche died later at a local hospital; Fletcher will survive.

Jeremy Joseph Christian is being held without bail on two counts of aggravated murder, one count of attempted murder, two counts of intimidation in the second degree and one count of possession of a restricted weapon as a felon.

The U.S. Attorney for Oregon will work with Portland police on the case, along with the FBI who say it’s too early to say whether the killings qualify as a federal hate crime though U.S. Attorney Billy Williams said:
“There’s a day of reckoning coming, a day of accountability.”
And it needs to start today. We all need to stop this speech; when you hear it muttered in a grocery store, speak up. If you see someone on social media say horrific things, hateful things, speak up. Seriously, there are more people who decry the haters than there are haters, so we all need to speak up.

Vajra Alaya-Maitreya, Namkai Meche’s sister, released this statement:
“We lost him in a senseless act that brought close to home the insidious rift of prejudice and intolerance that is too familiar, too common. He was resolute in his conduct (and) respect of all people. In his final act of bravery, he held true to what he believed is the way forward. He will live in our hearts forever as the just, brave, loving, hilarious and beautiful soul he was. We ask that in honor of his memory, we use this tragedy as an opportunity for reflection and change. We choose love.”
Choose love, over hate; it really is that simple.

Imtiaz Khan, president of the Islamic Center of Portland, said:
“We are very sad. Ramadan started just a couple hours ago. We are very sorry for the two men who tried to do the right thing. … Of course people from the Muslim community are concerned. And, unfortunately, the easy targets are women because of the headscarf.”
That was it ... because of a headscarf.

It appears, through reports in the Portland Mercury, that Jeremy Joseph Christian, right, was a “known right wing extremist and white supremacist” who had attempted to assault protesters at local demonstrations in the past. Video from the April 29 “March for Free Speech” showed Christian arriving draped in an American flag and carrying a baseball bat. 

And, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a Facebook page they say belonged to Christian showed he held racist, white supremacist and extremist beliefs. On that page, the Facebook user said he supported creating a “White homeland” in the Pacific Northwest and declared that he had “just Challenged Ben Ferencz (Last Living Nuremberg Persecutor) to a Debate in the Hague with Putin as our judge. I will defend the Nazis and he will defend the AshkeNAZIs.”
And did anyone say anything to him? Did anyone question him? Did anyone tell him there is no room for hate?

On April 28, the same Facebook user shared a meme that showed a picture of Confederate statues being removed:
“If we’re removing statues because of the Civil War, We should be removing mosques because of 9/11.”
After the stabbings, that Facebook page was flooded with furious comments from people who had linked him with the Portland train stabbing suspect.

Too little; too late. You can’t stop a stabbing after the fact; those people, infuriated by Christian’s beliefs should have said something earlier.

Even his mother; Mary Christian said she couldn’t imagine why her son would be involved in such an incident, “unless he was on drugs or something.”
“He’s been in prison. He’s always been spouting anti-establishment stuff, but he’s a nice person. I just can’t imagine.”
A nice person spouting hate. I don’t think so.

We all hear the stories about, if you see something, say something, and we think it applies to terrorist from without, coming here to do us harm. But it also applies to terrorists from within, who are using their hate, and are enabled by the President of the United States, to say and do whatever they want.

And we say nothing? We say nothing.

That has to end.

Washington Post: ‘Final act of bravery’
Buzzfeed: These Are The Victims Of The Portland Train Stabbing Attack


Mark Alexander said...

Amen, brother!

the dogs' mother said...

Spent a lot of time in Portland the times we
lived close by. Breaks my heart.

Theresa Young said...

In my opinion the problem stems way back in America. It has never addressed its own issues of racial hatred. This has just built for centuries. If we put all the hateful groups out of the country do you realize how many people would be gone? How many so -called "elites" would be gone. In my opinion this country was built on hatred and sometimes it just seems like a losing battle for us sane folks. Just sayin'.

krayolakris said...

Heartbreaking...and you are so right....we all need to deal with it head on.

Raybeard said...

Am I alone in waiting to hear the President's total condemnation on this appalling crime, and his expressions of sympathy for the relatives of the murdered - as well as his defending of the two young women? Maybe I've just missed it.

Mitchell is Moving said...

Otra vez, Amen!

Bob Slatten said...

@Raybeard _____ sent out a Tweet, because, of course, calling the murders "unacceptable."
You know, as opposed to the "acceptable" kinds of murder.

Raybeard said...

So I did miss his tweet, Bob. Strong word! That must really have put the murderer in his place.

Bob Slatten said...

Right? ISIS is a "loser" and racist murders are "unacceptable."

Helen Lashbrook said...

Murder, for whatever reason, is never the right option. You are right; encouraging division is another wrong option. We should look at our shared values, not what divides us.

And on a racist note Christian looks like the kind of yob who would be a white supremacist, if for no other reason than as a white ill-educated yob he would be nothing if he didn't believe in the fallacy of white supremacy - if you saw him on the bus you wouldn't want to sit next to him!