To love each other, we must seek justice for everyone

Demonstrators in Minneapolis demand justice after the murder of George Floyd by four police officers who ignored his pleas for almost nine minutes.

I’ve seen a meme on Facebook this morning, posted by several friends, calling on us to love one another.

But as sweet as it seems, it just calls on us to agree to disagree, and that will never contribute a thing to the justice oppressed people are seeking.

“We’re one race—the human race. You want to support President Trump? You do you. It’s your choice. You want to support Biden? Fine… also your choice! You want to believe in God? Okay, believe in God. You want to believe in magical creatures that fly around & sprinkle fairy dust to make life better? Awesome… you do you.

“BUT stop thrusting your beliefs on others & not being able to deal with the fact that they don’t have the same exact mind-set as you. Having our own minds is what makes us all individual and beautiful.”

I have a problem with this — a big problem.

The entire thing (it has several more paragraphs) seems sweet, but it isn’t. It offers a pass to racists and bigots.

“Just do you …” means I’m not going to challenge your beliefs that people of color are stupid or lazy, that poor people don’t deserve more than slave wages or that they don’t need a decent place to live or healthy food and clean water, that immigrants belong in cages because they came here seeking safety and perhaps a better life for their children — the same thing every one of our ancestors came here seeking.

“Just do you …” means I’m OK with your bullying demonstrators and legislators by carrying a military-grade assault weapon around and demanding we reopen the economy in the midst of a deadly pandemic because you want a haircut.

“Just be you …” means you’re OK with cops killing unarmed black people and then looking to justify it by saying, “he had pot in his system,” or “he was arrested for breaking and entering six years ago …” None of these things is a capital crime, and everyone deserves a trial, not summary judgment and execution.

“Just be you …” means you’re OK with the 1 percent grabbing all the stimulus money and leaving small-business owners desperate enough to feel they have to open up or starve.

“Just be you …” means you’re privileged enough not to be experiencing these horrors.

We need to be talking about inequality.

We need to talk about how we love and support people who are forced to work low-wage jobs or starve in the middle of a pandemic.

We need to talk about those who are fine with children, stolen from their parents and held in filthy cages, are being lost in the system or dying from preventable causes.

We need to talk about the number of unarmed people of color shot and killed by cops, who then face few, if any, consequences.

We need to talk about people who are marching for their very lives are being doused with chemical weapons (tear gas is a chemical weapon that’s banned in war by multi-national treaties) and shot with rubber bullets.

We need to talk about poisoned water in Flint and other cities.

Yes, the meme is sweet and feel-good, and it’s privileged.

Those of us who have enough food and water, who can feel safe walking or jogging pretty much anywhere, can feel this way and feel good about calling to love everyone.

But to love everyone, we have to advocate for those who aren’t privileged. I don’t feel like pointing that out is “thrusting an opinion” on anyone. People are dying because of inequality. Love can only solve these problems if we who have privilege act to secure what we have for those who are oppressed.

My faith calls me to do that. What about yours?

We’re using Nazi tactics on immigrants. How is this OK?

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operations are stealing people from their homes and jobs, leaving thousands of families shattered. (ICE Photo)

 

We have become the very thing we have claimed to hate the most: Nazis.

Across the country, immigration agents are arresting people, tearing them from their families and friends and dumping them into prisons, where they may languish for months or years — all because they tried to make a better life for themselves and their families, just as our ancestors did (unless, of course, you are descended from the people who were here when Europeans arrived and your ancestors were fortunate enough to survive the genocide).

My granddaughter is a third-grade teacher. One of her children came to school the day after the ICE raids in her city and cried as she told my granddaughter that her daddy was gone. People had come and taken him away and she didn’t know where he was or when she might see him again.

Another student said his uncle had been taken and he blamed himself because he left the door open when he left for school.

Six other students were missing from her classroom as their parents had taken them and fled in the night.

Here in Asheville, people are afraid to leave their homes so advocates have organized to get food to them and get their children to and from school.

Latin-owned businesses are feeling the pinch, so if you have business to do, please try to seek out and patronize these businesses.

In Upstate New York, a farmer was roughed up as he tried to come to the aid of one of his workers, who was being roughed up by armed ICE agents.

What have we become when we think this is OK?

Instead of rounding up Jews, we’re rounding up Mexicans and other Central and South Americans. Tell me how this is different. We are targeting an entire group of people and persecuting them.

Anyone with a Spanish accent or even a Spanish-sounding name is having to carry paperwork to prove they’re here “legally.”

I’ve heard people saying that they broke the law by coming into this country, but there is, in all practicality, no legal way to get here and escape the danger in their own countries. Once here, immigrants endure insults and abuse as employers pay them less than minimum wage and work them to exhaustion. They are beaten and raped and they’re afraid to report it because they fear they’ll be the ones arrested and sent to prison. They stay because they believe their children will have a better life here.

Risking their very lives to get here is as courageous as it gets in my book. My ancestors left starvation and grinding poverty in Ireland and didn’t find acceptance here, either. Wealthy Americans paid poor Irish to take their place on the front lines of the Civil War, and many went because they faced such discrimination in the workplace that this was their only choice.

But we weren’t rounded up, stolen from our homes and shipped off to overcrowded prisons for months or years.

They’re coming for our Latin brothers and sisters. They’re dragging them off in the night, kidnapping them from the streets and sending them to prison.

We can’t call ourselves people of faith — any faith — and abide this. We must stand up and protest. We must do all we can to make it stop. These are Nazi tactics, these are fascist tactics, the method of petty dictators and corrupt-to-the-core governments.

Who’s next? Muslims? They live peacefully among us now, but the hatred ginned up against them would make it pretty easy to drag them from their homes, jobs and schools.

Then who? Dissidents? That means me, an old, white great-grandmother. I could be next.

Then they’ll come for you. Don’t think they won’t.

 

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