Memorial Day. A day we honor our fallen soldiers for their bravery and sacrifice.
I tend to be a relatively passive person. I could attribute this to a philosophy of “Live and let live,” or “To each his own,” a belief that everyone is entitled to his opinion, even if I disagree.
But, it would be more accurate to say I hate conflict and will usually avoid it at all costs.
Some might call the first “excuse” commendable. But, the second–and probably more accurate reason–is cowardice or at least, a lack of bravery.
But today, I’m speaking up, because passivity only serves to grease the slippery slope of prejudice.
This morning started off like any other weekend morning–sipping coffee as I perused the news. I’d already read two of the stories in the past few days–the tragic stabbings of two Portland men who stood up to hate, and the story about the Denver Post sportswriter’s tweet about the Japanese winner of the Indy 500. Both stories angered me–obviously in varying degrees–but upon first reading, for a dozen different reasons, I passively “let it go.” Why?
- It was easier to let it go than say or do anything about it.
- Besides, what can I do?
- I’m tired of anger and hatred.
- I don’t want to offend friends and family.
- Is it possible I’m numbing to the frequency of prejudice?
But this morning, I mentioned Terry Frei’s tweet to Steve.
The more I talked about this tweet, the louder and faster I spoke:
“Can you believe that after more than 75 years since Pearl Harbor was attacked, this man, this educated journalist, still doesn’t think it’s appropriate for a Japanese man to win the Indy 500 on Memorial Day? What did this race car driver have to do with the attack on Pearl Harbor? And what did those Muslim girls on the train have to do with terrorism? You know, prejudice is a slippery slope, and in my opinion, Terry Frei is only slightly higher on that slippery slope than the ignorant bastard who stabbed those two men on the train.”
I was surprised at anger that practically spewed. I thought I’d “compartmentalized” it, shoved it into the faraway recesses of my mind.
Still, as I hung my flag outside, made a smoothie for breakfast, planted some flowers in the backyard, I continued to try to shove my anger aside. But I couldn’t stop thinking about these two stories, until I realized they’re bound with the same ugly string of prejudice. Only then did I understand my anger, and as I thought about the the abundance of anti-Muslim comments I see on Facebook and how similar some of them are to comments I read from Jeremy Joseph Christian, my anger was fueled.
Prejudice is a slippery slope.
I’m not saying Terry Frei’s tweet about being “uncomfortable” that a Japanese man, Takuma Sato, won the Indy 500 on Memorial Day is comparable to the horrific stabbings of two men by a white supremacist. But the thought that a Japanese race car driver should be resented for winning a race more than 75 years after Pearl Harbor is a result of the same ignorant mindset as those who would believe two young Muslim women should be lumped in with all other Muslims as possible terrorists.
Japanese people are not, 75 years later, connected to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Not all Muslims are terrorists and not all terrorists are Muslim. Not all Christians are white supremacists and not all white supremacists are Christian.
Today, we remember our fallen heroes. I also honor the three men who, on a train in Portland, Oregon on May 26, stood up against hatred. Two lost their lives–Ricky John Best, 53, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23. Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, was also stabbed and is in serious condition.
The least I can do to honor the courage and sacrifice of all of our heroes is to speak up against prejudice. To honor the three Portland heroes, I also contributed to a GoFundMe account.
Click HERE if you’d like to contribute to Tri Met Heroes. According to the Washington Post:
A GoFundMe spokesman confirmed to The Post that the company would ensure funds are sent to the victim’s families.
God bless all of our heroes.
# # #
A few of my past blog posts on prejudice’s slippery slope:
Fear of the Huddled Masses
A Way of Life
Unhyphenated Patriots, Part 2