12-21: Stop the Haters

[I consult and consider many sources in search of appropriate subject matter for this blog. Often I find material that is best left (mostly) untouched by me, e.g., today’s piece, a report by Mehran Mehrdad Ali from the New York City neighborhood of Jackson Heights.]

Mehran Mehrdad Ali claims, in the title of a piece she wrote earlier this month,

We Want a Hate-Free City

Ali reports that

On December 2, hundreds of residents gathered at Diversity Plaza in Jackson Heights in Queens to call for their community to be made a “hate-free zone,” in response to the recent spike in hate crimes, assaults and incidents against people of oppressed groups….

It shouldn’t be naïve to believe that America is truly the land of the free. But it is, naïve that is. A nation of immigrants—not counting our indigenous brethren, of course—the thought of any group expressing dominance of any kind over any other group should be odious to all of us. But it isn’t. And too many of us opt to remain silent. Ali provides details of the event, beginning with the gathering at

“Diversity” Plaza

Participants gathered at Diversity Plaza for the rally and then marched to 89th Street, where a closing rally was held. Along the way, they chanted, “Here to stay, here to fight!” “When (immigrants/Muslim lives/women/trans folks/queer folks) are under attack, what do we do? Fight back, fight back!” “United we are stronger!”… The chant sheet distributed to marchers was in various languages, including Spanish, Hindi and Bengali.

The rally wasn’t just about people coexisting and tolerating each other or a particular oppressed group talking only about that group’s issues, but people facing different oppressions coming together to show true solidarity. There was a sense that

everyone is in this together.

Isn’t that true? Are we not all in this—this city, this nation, this world, this life—together?

… Two elderly women held up signs from Jewish Voice for Peace that read, “Standing with Muslims against Islamophobia.” …

There was a call for people to come together with elected officials to create

hate-free zones.

The implications of that statement are startling and horrifying. The United States of America, by definition, if not by our Constitution, should be hate free.

… From snippets of conversation heard during the rally and the march, it was clear that people see the need to start getting organized themselves–and that they lack faith in elected officials….

The march was bold and confident. There were several large banners and organized contingents, as well as enthusiastic individuals. Hundreds of people marched proudly and loudly through the streets of Jackson Heights, and there was great support and solidarity for the march from the community.

This is the start of something that has the potential to grow much bigger and more powerful as people start to get organized to make our communities hate-free.

“… start … potential to grow …”

This is 2016 not 1516. Have we as a people regressed, or did we never even come close to reaching our potential? Why do we insist that in order for some among us to live the dream, so to speak, others must be denied? To my way of thinking, that is un-American.

All Deserve a Hate-Free America.

*****

The illustration at the blog’s top corner is the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. The blogger is a Vietnam Veteran, 1966-67. He is an author and past state chaplain for a major veterans organization. He welcomes comments on posts and encourages readers to subscribe to PTSDOutreach.com; two points: 1) it is free, 2) posts appear directly in your e-mail in-box.

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