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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wait...I'M a Terrorist?!?!



Last week, I wrote a post pledging to stand up against the stream of hate being thrown around. For the most part, the response was encouraging, and I even saw a few people using #nomorehate throughout social media. Thank you!! Not for reading my post or even agreeing with me, but for refusing to tolerate the hatred currently polluting this country.

As expected, some took offense to my post. Throughout numerous discussions with these people, it became clear to me that many who use hate rhetoric don’t even understand that that’s what they’re doing. So let’s look at that first.

Hate speech: “It is an incitement to hatred primarily against a group of persons defined in terms of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and the like. Hate speech can be any form of expression regarded as offensive to racial, ethnic and religious groups and other discrete minorities or to women” (US Legal).

Basically, if you classify a person into one generalization—if you define someone by their race, religion, political views, etc—and then say something negative about that person or group, what you have said stems from hate. For example: Bob is a conservative, so he believes homosexuals should receive shock treatments to fix them. Unless Bob said those words, that is a hateful statement about him. It’s also hateful towards conservatives because many conservatives do support homosexual rights.

This is not my opinion. It is the legal definition. If you define a generalized group of people and say something negative, what you have said stems from hate. For example: Liberals are baby-killers. This is hateful because there are many liberals who are pro-life.

We do these things to each other far too often. A Christian calls homosexuals “pedophiles.” A homosexual calls Christians “judgmental.” A white person calls blacks “violent.” A black person calls whites “racist.” All of these statements are based in partial fact, stretched to hyperbolic levels. Some homosexuals are pedophiles, but so are some Christians. Some Christians are judgmental, but so are some homosexuals. Some black citizens are violent, but so are some white citizens. Some white citizens are racist, but so are some black citizens. The overwhelmingly high majority of all these people do not come close to these labels. So to identify Christians as “judgmental” is a generalization that comes from a deep, internal resentment. To define the black community as “violent” is a generalization that comes from a deep, internal resentment.

And it all needs to stop.

I’d like to take this a little further. See, hate often comes from a deep-rooted sense of fear, and what do we fear the most? Violence. I have seen more posts, shared articles, and memes regarding Muslims and this attempted registry than nearly anything else that could be deemed “hateful.” The consensus among the hate propaganda is that Muslims have ties to ISIS, so we need to kick them all out of America in order to protect our land from terrorists.

Terrorism: “1) Involves an act that: a) is dangerous to human life or potentially destructive of critical infrastructure or key resources; and b) is a violation of the criminal laws of the United States; and 2) appears to be intended: a) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; b) to influence the policy of a government; or c) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping” (Us Legal).

While the roots of ISIS blend from other groups, it seems (as best as I could find) that the consensus of ISIS’s formation began around 2013 (CNN). From 2013-15, there have been four attacks on U.S. soil linked to ISIS, with only fourteen deaths…all coming from the San Bernardino shooting last year (NYTimes). Even then, the FBI has stated that they have found no evidence linking ISIS to that shooting (NPR).

During that same time frame, there have been 22 mass shootings in the U.S., resulting in 170 deaths (Mother Jones). Of those 170 deaths, 59 of them occurred in schools (Everytown Research).

By definition of the law, a mass shooting is an act of terrorism because it involves an act that is dangerous to human life; is a violation of criminal law; and appears to be intended to intimidate a civilian population. If we look at the scoreboard from 2013-15, it’s 22 acts of terror on America by Americans to 4 acts of terror on America that had ties to ISIS (zero by ISIS itself). It’s 170 deaths to 14 (if you count the 14 deaths in San Bernardino as tied to ISIS, which the FBI does not).

Of those 22 mass shootings, 7 of them were committed by white citizens, more than any other race (Mother Jones). In fact, going back to 1982, white citizens have consisted of nearly 64 percent of the mass shootings in this country (CNN).

That’s right—factually speaking, the greatest terrorist threat on Americans in America is the white community.

Where should I go to register for vetting?

Wow. I can actually hear some of you screaming at me right now. Why? Because I just called you a terrorist? Because I manipulated facts and statistics to imply that you are worse than, or at least equal to, ISIS? Because I generalized the entire white community based on the actions of a few sick people over the last three years?

Yet some of you have no qualms about doing the same thing to others. This is the hate on which I speak and write. This is the type of hate that I will no longer sit back and casually ignore.

This is the hate I witnessed again today, thanks to our wonderful president-elect. We all know of the actions of Abdul Razak Ali Artan at Ohio State University the other day. Artan is a legal, permanent resident of the United States. In fact, US officials said that no negative information was found during his background checks prior to being allowed in this country and when he became a legal resident. Yet there was Trump, posting away on Twitter once again, saying: “ISIS is taking credit for the terrible stabbing attack at Ohio State University by a Somali refugee who should not have been in our country” (italics mine). Let’s ignore that Artan was legally here. Let’s ignore that Homeland Security found “no direct link” between Artan and ISIS (BBC). He’s a refugee, so he must be a terrorist. He’s Muslim, so he has no right to be in our country.

This is the crap Trump says that stirs the pot of hate among the rest of the country. He distances himself from hate groups, but then displays hate. Others quickly follow.

We cannot ignore this kind of hate. When we ignore hate, we allow it to fester. We allow it to spread. We allow it to take root in an entire nation and affect our politics, our relationships, and our children.

I believe everyone would agree that we want to see America great. Yes, we may disagree on how to do that, but that’s part of what makes America great. We disagree, yet find ways to work together. Our differences make us whole. Think of a strong marriage. The strengths of one spouse is often the weaknesses of the other, and vice-versa. Together, they form a perfect union.

Our Union has been built on the differences of each other. We want America great, yet we constantly insult those who are different from us. How does ridiculing liberals make America great? How does insulting different races make America great? How does scorning someone’s religion make America great? How does bashing someone’s sexual orientation make America great?

Hasn’t history shown us that empires are destroyed from the inside-out rather than the outside-in? Verbally attacking each other gets us nowhere but division. We wonder why nothing is ever accomplished in this country? Why progress is never made? We are the reason.

Man/Woman. Democrat/Republican. Conservative/Liberal. Buddhist/Christian/Hindu/Islamic/Jewish. Bi/Gay/Straight/Transgender. Asian/Black/Hispanic/White. Immigrant/Native/Refugee. We are America. But not just America. We are the UNITED States of America. Or at least we’re supposed to be.

So what should we do when we see or hear hate? Respond with words and with love. Christians often say, “Hate the sin, but love the sinner.” Well, we should “Hate the hate, but love the hater.” Responding to hate with hate solves nothing. In fact, it makes it worse. Speak out, but do so in love. Be respectful in what you say. Also—understand that you are very likely not going to change that person’s mind, let alone their heart. Hate comes from a deep root, remember. The purpose of speaking out is for everyone else who may be watching, reading, or listening. If all they see is hate, hate, hate, what do we expect them to learn? Speak out. Let those outsiders learn from your compassion. Your love. There’s no easy fix here. It’s a long-term project. That’s why we need as many people working on it as possible.

Thank you. I love you, all.

#nomorehate

Friday, November 25, 2016

A Pathetic Civil War



Warning: Some offensive terms and pictures are used in this post. They are items that I have read, seen, or heard, not my own.

Enough.

The verbal attacks on conservatives and liberals need to end. Now. What good do they serve? How does calling a conservative a “redneck retard” or a liberal a “crybaby faggot” make your life any better? How does it improve this country? Because isn’t that what we’re all trying to do? Make this country as great as it can be?

So what is the purpose of posting things like this?



It is impossible to cover everything that is disgusting here. Let’s start with all of the stereotypes—on both sides. Conservatives should be offended by how they’re portrayed, as should liberals. Secondly: For all of the fear of terrorism, for all of the anger towards ISIS, you’re promoting a civil war? Americans killing…Americans!!

That’s the bottom line—conservatives are Americans. Liberals are Americans. When you turn such vehement hate on each other, you are turning on another American. What does that make us as a collective nation?

Weak.

Like it or not, conservatives and liberals cannot function correctly without each other. America would collapse without both sides strong and present. When I have students write persuasive papers, I tell them that regardless of their stance, I will argue against them in order to push them to think harder. We need that. We need dissent to think things through. We need dissent to point out the loopholes in our plans.

Liberals think outside-the-box. They’re the dreamers. What could be. Conservatives think inside-the-box. They’re the rule followers. What is and should be. Without liberals, little progress would be made. Without conservatives, the progress would fall apart and fail.

Neither side has all of the answers. But if we can learn to work together, we will come closer. Of course there will be disagreement, but that’s not wrong. Of course there will be anger, but anger should not turn into such vile hatred. In life, who makes us the angriest? Those closest to us. Friends and family. And we love them, despite those times of deep frustration. If we truly want a strong nation, we need to duplicate the family construct. Accept our differences. Learn how to work through those differences. And love each other.

Stop stereotyping. Stop generalizing. Stop labeling and defining. It’s all hate and has no place in this country if we truly want “to make America great.”

When we stereotype, we think of conservatives like this…







…when in reality, they can also look like this…





Even these people call themselves conservatives:





When we stereotype, we think of liberals like this…






…when in reality, they can also look like this…





Even these people call themselves liberals:



My point is that both sides come in all shapes, sizes, colors, orientations, ethnicities…the list goes on and on. There are clearly some conservatives that most other conservatives don’t want to be associated with…just like there are some liberals that most other liberals don’t want to be associated with.

When you really boil it down, conservatives and liberals are not that different. Both sides recognize how awesome this country is, they just differ on how to make it better. But instead of hating each other for it, we need to learn how to respect those differences. That is what makes America the best country in the world. Love and respect and acceptance of each other’s differences. But that’s far from what we’re showing each other right now, and it needs to stop.

Yes, share your opinions on the speaking points and actions of politicians, but do so with documented fact from reputable sources. Stop sharing despicable op-ed pieces written with unsubstantiated theories and one-sided rhetoric. Stop with the abhorrent, hate-filled memes. Conservatives are not all heroes, nor are they all evil. Liberals are not all heroes, nor are they all evil.

But there is one thing that true conservatives and true liberals are:



American.

Take pride in that.

#nomorehate