Category Archives: Hate

Infestation

It is the word that the so-called president of the United States used to describe the city of Baltimore while attacking Congressman Elijah Cummings.  Trump wrote on his official Twitter account: “Cummings’ district is a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess. If he spent more time in Baltimore, maybe he could help clean up this very dangerous and filthy place. No human being would want to live there.”

Victor Blackwell, a CNN journalist, later recounted the disturbing pattern of the use of the word when Trump is talking of persons not socially colored white.  Blackwell is in tears at the end.  Baltimore is his hometown.  There are human being there that he knows and loves.

Infestation.  Such an interesting choice of words.  Of all the words at Trump’s disposal, he chooses this one again and again.  It harkens back to Nazi Germany and its use of propaganda to re-create the Jewish people as the enemy.  Its leaders chose this word too.  This word is on the side of extermination.

We would do well to stamp out its use.

Persons who would employ the term or speak indifferently about its use are not students of history and have not considered the danger of having a full circle moment.  Author and activist, James Baldwin wrote in an essay titled “On Being White… And Other Lies,” “… America has paid the highest and most extraordinary price for becoming white.”  Who one has to reject and how often the distance between us and them must be created in order to be accepted into this exclusive community is incalculable.  But, also, how far removed one is from their true self.

White is a lie.  There is no being in it and no belonging for any culture of the world.  Baldwin says, “America became white– the people who, as they claim, ‘settled’ the country became white– because of the necessity of denying the black presence, and justifying black subjugation.  No community can be based on such a principle– or, in other words, no community can be established on so genocidal a lie.”  No human beings can live here.

Infestation.  It’s more than a word.  It is the subtle suggestion of an act so egregious but necessary for the protection of the lie of whiteness.  And it is no little white lie for millions of lives are a stake.

Tongue


“Death and life are in the power of the tongue,

    and those who love it will eat its fruits.” | Proverb 18.21

Calling all cats!

Get our tongues!

Only you can play with them.

Open your mouths and say, “Ahhh.”

Because if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

Loose lips are dangerous.

Teeth hold steady

We cannot help hate, which always stands ready.

We must hold our tongues

 accountable

Every letter and every syllable

No tongues lashing

These are life and death words

Horror stories, the product of our characters

Tongue- swords, piercing flesh, dealing death

One word away from taking her last breath

This is no time to be talking out of both sides of your mouth.

You say what you mean.

You mean what you say.

Swear to me that you will use your tongue for love.

People are dying over our words, falling to never rise again.

Because of pride’s insurrection that burns our throats and makes our veins bulge.

Don’t let your lip slip.

Bite your tongue

Until it bleeds

 

Instead cry and say what you really mean.

Turn on your tongue.

Tell on your tongue.

Confess the sins of your tongue.

I must warn you.

It is unruly and not to be tamed.  Ask James.[1]

Still it is better than adding to this list of names:

Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Cecil Rosenthal, David Rosenthal, Bernice Simon, Sylvan Simon (husband of Bernice), Daniel Stein, Melvin Wax, Irving Younger, Maurice Stallard and Vickie Lee Jones.

_____________________________

[1] See James 3.6-8, NRSV: “And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

Another day, another tragedy: What do we say now?

Every day and in the United States in particular, we experience one deception, one violation, one scandal, one mass shooting, one assault on our collective reasoning, one attack on our decency after another.  Social media catches it all and acts more like a net, a web.  I can’t shake it though I want it off of me.  I am ensnared by what I read and see.  What I know often paralyzes me with fear or it sticks to me and I take it where ever I go.  “Be afraid.  Be very afraid.”

Tonight is no different.  I am sitting on my bed and wondering, “What do we say now?”  Reminded yet again of the world our words create, I am struggling to find them.  I know that I have them around here somewhere but I do not have the energy to look, the desire to try to give hope one more chance.

I want to say, “Things will get better” but it doesn’t sound right.  I need to say, “Be still my soul and know who your God is” as she paces frantically back and forth.  But, those words won’t come to me no matter how many times I ask them to.

And a cat does not have my tongue but I wouldn’t feel it if she did.  I think that I am numb.  Because I can’t keep feeling like this and survive.  I am slowly shutting down.

Mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburg.  He wanted “to kill Jews,” the deadliest in U.S. history.  Two African American grandparents were killed at a Kroger grocery store in Kentucky.  The shooter tried to enter a African American- led church before committing this heinous act.  Fourteen bombs sent to political leaders, a benefactor and a vocal Trump critic.  All in the same week.  What can I say?

The news is breaking me and it is taking me longer to piece my thoughts together these days.  It is harder to believe in our shared humanity when we are divided in these ways.  These words pile up and around me.  I am trying to clean up my act, to get my act together.  I sort through my letters, trying to form words that make sense– because this doesn’t make sense.

What are we saying about each other and to ourselves if this is the response?  White nationalism. Xenophobia.  Political Terrorism.  The world is not getting smaller but we are.  Despite the speed of our internet connections, we are shrinking, shirking our duty to love, to listen, to learn from each other.  Replaced with words like echo chamber.

But, I don’t want to hear this anymore.  I want to say something different so that I can see something different.  Because these words are not working for me.  This cannot continue to be our reality.  Another day, another tragedy, what do we say now?

Surprise is not a valid response to racism in America

Image result for surpriseRecently, I was talking to a man named Garrett, who I think identifies as a Christian.  He took issue with a recent article published by Relevant magazine that posed the question, “Should Pastors Who Don’t Speak Up About Racism Resign?”  It is an interesting question in light of the recent resignation of Rev. Robert W. Lee IV, a descendant of General Robert E. Lee.  He spoke out against white supremacy at the VMAs and was later forced to resign for his remarks.  The church thought that it brought too much attention to them and it was not well- received.

But, for Garrett, “Racism isn’t a widespread problem in the church or the country.”  For him, the question was totally unnecessary and was part of the problem.  The question was making racism a big deal.  Asking these kinds of questions and talking about it at all was the reason why there was divisiveness in our country.  But, when I shared with him recent incidents of racialized violence, he suggested that these were the only two, namely Charleston and Charlottesville.  And it was a small amount of people; consequently, their hate didn’t amount to much.  The Ku Klux Klan hadn’t been around that long (They organized in 1866.).  When I shared more names and dates, he moved his argument to laws that support race and racialized violence.  When that was addressed, he stopped talking.

Because when we know better, we often don’t want to do better, respond differently or change our perspective.  Because to answer the question would require the acknowledgement of the truths behind it.  And many of us are not ready to do that.  Instead, like Garrett, we question the question though that’s not a legitimate answer either.

And we know the answer.  Garrett, like so many others, doesn’t care and worse still, he doesn’t care to know.  I am sure that he would have produced more questions if allowed.  He would rather debate the question than discuss the answer.  But, if you don’t know the facts about race and racism in this country by now, you don’t want to know.

So, when we are confronted with the reality of racialized violence, don’t feign disbelief.  “How could this happen here?”  Too many people have died because of it.  Gasps are misplaced here.  Instead, the sound more befitting is lament.

For history tells us that this present reality has never been fully addressed.  Hundreds of years later, what is there to be amazed by?  Opening our mouths in shock is easier than parting our lips during conversations on why and how and when this needs to stop.  It is easier to say, “I didn’t know” versus “What can I do?”  It lets us off the hook.

“I had no idea that this was still happening.”  Pretending as if racism in America is new or at some point disappeared only to resurface in this present moment (and no other) is self- serving.  Because witnesses are called to testify.   We would rather be judge and jury.

It is also perhaps evidence of our avoidance.  We don’t want to deal with race and so we attack anyone who would bring it up.  “There is nothing to see here.”  But there is.  What we don’t want to see is ourselves complicit in our silence, implicated because we have heard this story before and we did nothing to stop it.

Sadly, this response is not new and no surprise.

Declining the invitation to hate

Image result for jagmeet singh with hecklerRev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a pastor, civil rights leader and martyr, said this in 1958, “A fifth point concerning nonviolent resistance is that it avoids not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. The nonviolent resister not only refuses to shoot his opponent but he also refuses to hate him.”

Jagmeet Singh, a candidate for the New Democratic Party in Canada, was hosting a meet and greet when he was faced with hatred.  Unwarranted but not unwelcomed by Mr. Singh, the heckler was shouted down by participants with the words “courage and love.”  She had misidentified Mr. Singh as a Muslim; he is not.  And even when corrected by an attendee and offered the opportunity to speak to a Muslim, she declined.  She wanted to speak to him because in her words, he was a supporter of Sharia laws and “in bed with the Muslim brotherhood.”  For the record, he is a practicing Sikh.

He reminded the audience, “What do we believe in?  We believe in love and courage.”  He went on to say to the woman, “We welcome you.  We love you. We support you. … We believe in your rights.”  To which, she could offer no full- throated response and eventually left the gathering.

Rather than fight hate with hate, Mr. Singh showed the courage it takes to love in the face of a finger- pointing, misplaced attack and blame.  Misidentified and pre- judged, Mr. Singh would not stoop to her level but raised the conversation above the rhetoric and to ensure that her shouting did not drown out his mission, he repeated it to the crowd: “love and courage.”  He declined the invitation to hate.  He responded in a post yesterday as to why.

He refused to hate her.  And that takes heart and guts.  Because the easiest members to control are the hands, feet and mouth.  We are taught to keep our hands to our selves, to quiet our feet, that if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.  But, who regulates the heart and soul of a person?  The heart and the will call for a higher sense of personal identity and responsibility for which no human law can govern.  Not only did Mr. Singh rise to the occasion, he rose up to a true expression of himself.

Here’s to love and courage!