Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Tragedy in Portland

Weeks in Hate: Abq Jew has been deeply troubled by last week's hate attack in Portland, Oregon, The City of Roses. With all of you, his loyal readers, Abq Jew prays for healing.

As Abq Jew blogged in February (see Love Trumps Hate: 24 Hours), he himself has been the target of a hate attack. But that attack, in January, was only online and electronic.

Hateful words were spewed - but that's where the attack both started and stopped. Although he was not greatly concerned at the time, Abq Jew realizes that it might have ended differently.

Since the November election, The New York Times has been publishing a series of articles called This Week in Hate. Many of these articles have been written by editor, columnist (and novelist) Anna North.

Ms North wrote about the attack on Abq Jew on February 9, in Hateful Threats Against a Jewish Blogger. Just a few weeks later, she wrote about two other hate attacks - both of which were far scarier and way more unsettling.

And both of which ended - as well as such attacks can end.

Rajpreet Heir was the subject of Anna North's March 24 article, When Your Commute Includes Hearing ‘You Don’t Belong in This Country’. Her story begins -
Rajpreet Heir was taking the L train to a friend’s birthday party in Manhattan this month when a white man began shouting at her. 
“Do you even know what a Marine looks like?” the man asked Ms. Heir, who is pictured in the video above. “Do you know what they have to see? What they do for this country? Because of people like you.” 
He told Ms. Heir, who is Sikh and was born in Indiana, that he hoped she was sent “back to Lebanon” and said, “You don’t belong in this country.”
Ms Heir made a video about her experience, and later wrote about it for Cosmopolitan. In which she concludes -

It’s tiring to confront racism since no one wants to be told they’re racist. To be successful at school, at work, in life, it’s risky to be viewed as a troublemaker — a humorless person who keeps correcting others. Yet in remaining silent, you can start to feel as if you’re decaying. 
Throughout the day at work, people stopped to talk to me about the video. Their comments were similar to the ones I’d read on the internet but hearing them in real life gave them more weight. Like many people of color, I’d been storing away racist incidents and slights, not allowing myself to realize how much they’d taken a toll on me. To have people in my office, the country, and world at large acknowledge those experiences made me feel understood, happy, lighter. 
I know not everyone is in a situation that allows them to speak out and call out racism without consequence, but I’m glad I decide to tell my story despite my hesitation. Hopefully others will see that this can be the outcome and come forward too.
Ulises Ricoy was the subject of Anna North's March 29 article, ‘I’m an American, First and Foremost’. His story begins -
For Ulises Ricoy, the dean of arts and sciences of Northern New Mexico College in Española, N.M., it happened during a run. It was the day after the election, and he was running near the college campus when a truck with a Confederate flag license plate approached him. 
Two men yelled a racial slur at him and told him to “get out of this country.” They also threw a glass bottle full of liquid, which looked like it might be urine. The bottle struck him in the chest and some of the liquid splashed on his face. 
Prof. Ricoy was born in Austin, Tex., grew up primarily in Mexico, and returned to Texas for high school. There he got used to racial slurs and insults. But in the rural, largely Latino and Native American part of New Mexico where he’s lived for seven years, he’d never experienced anything like that until the incident in November.
Prof Ricoy's story concludes -
While Prof. Ricoy was alone when he was attacked, his colleagues at the college rallied around him when they heard what had happened. The college president even made an announcement condemning the incident. 
Though not everyone talks about it openly, Prof. Ricoy sees a lot of anxiety about the Trump administration in northern New Mexico. Several students who are recent immigrants from Mexico have come to him with their concerns. At the same time, he sees a sense of hope for the future. “That’s just the spirit of migrants,” he said. 
“We know adversity,” he explained. “This is just another challenge.”

The last article* Anna North has posted for This Week in Hate - After Hate Crimes, Victims Get Stuck With the Bill - was on April 26.

Abq Jew had begun to hope that the series had gone on hiatus; that Ms North had run out of material; that the declining number of hate attacks was coming closer and closer to zero.

And then came the tragedy in Portland.

Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche and retired Army Sgt. Ricky Best were killed in the attack, and Micah David-Cole Fletcher is recovering from his injuries.

The New York Daily News wrote:
Portland stabbing survivor writes poem about horrific attack: 'I spat in the eye of hate and lived' 
She ran for her life and looked back to see “blood everywhere.” 
That’s what one of the teen girls at the center of the horrific Oregon train stabbing told a local television station. 
“He told us to go back to Saudi Arabia, and he told us we shouldn’t be here, to get out of his country,” Destinee Mangum, 16, told KPTV, referring to white supremacist and alleged killer Jeremy Christian [yimach sh'mo]
“He was just telling us that we basically weren’t anything and that we should kill ourselves,” she added.

The Jewish tradition does not teach that hate must be replaced by love; we are all human, and truly loving one another is just too much to ask.

But we should act as if we love one another. 
We should at least treat one another with respect.

Anna North has not run out of material. 

A makeshift memorial in Portland for the two men who were killed on a commuter train while defending two young women against anti-Muslim taunts.
Credit Terray Sylvester/Reuters
Click here for Anna North's latest article in This Week in Hate

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