mardi, mars 08, 2011
We have met the "enemy"
Back when I was a child, folks from Long Island were the "foreigners." Yes, Brooklyn is part of Long Island -- but to us, the folks who lived "out there" were the upwardly mobile, the suburbanites who disliked us urban troublemakers, and, of course the wealthy in their Southampton beach homes.
But then we met some people from Long Island, and discovered that, by, and large, they were just like us -- except without the urban hipster flair.
Once I went to college, and my world-view widened, I nurtured friendships with Long Islanders, upstate New Yorkers, and even people from Wisconsin. Would North Carolina and Colorado be far behind?
And now, a Congressman from down the expressway where I grew up wants to tell me that my neighbors who are American Muslims are the real enemy. The problem with Peter King (well, just one of problems) is that right now he's got an err, huge megaphone -- the United States Congress.
We are becoming, or perhaps we have always been, a country that craves villains and heroes, groups of people we can turn into sinners and saints.
And we don't seem to learn from past mistakes, like the evils perpetrated upon 19th-century Irish and Jews, or Japanese Americans in the 20th-century.
So we attach people groups to the issues we haven't addressed.
Do we not have an effective immigration policy?
Lawmakers and states argue we should punish the children of the undocumented (or illegals, depending on where you stand) .
Do we fear terrorists will target American again ( although statistics show we have far more to fear from home-grown terrorists)?
Blame American Muslims, even though we know most American Muslims are law-abiding patriots.
Are we worried about the Middle East, where dictators fall and crowns totter? We continue to uncritically support an Israeli regime that treats Palestinians as less than fully human -- because in a landscape where it is hard to bet on winners, we need to have a "hero."
Tenure a problem for ya? Budget woes got you down? Teachers and public-sector employees are convenient sitting ducks for some -- right here in America.
Legitimate issues? Absolutely?
Facile solutions? For sure.
Not only facile, but untrue to the ideals that made this country so successful. Any sacrifice that isn't shared, any burdens not borne as a community, doesn't help us thrive as a nation.
Choosing "enemies" is child's play. In a world that demands adult solutions, it is a very dangerous game.