July 1, 2016

Becoming "Liberal"

A few weeks ago, I was accused of being a liberal.  Now those of you who know me are probably laughing or possibly spewing a beverage that you have just sipped, especially those of you in my family who have actually voted for a Democrat in the last four elections.  What made complete strangers view me as a liberal?  It definitely wasn't because of any comments that I would never make in support of Hillary.  I wasn't making anti-Trump statements, though I have been "guilty" of that.  I wasn't supporting any liberal cause whatsoever.  I was merely stating that we should not be inciting fear against Muslims because of a lone gunman and that we shouldn't be jumping to conclusions until the police had published a complete report after conducting a complete investigation.  Interestingly enough, these were the same comments I made after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson.  However, being called liberal was relatively respectful.  There were other comments:
  • "You R a fool"
  • "You need to study the bible"
  • "Hello America.  I would like to introduce you to your biggest problem.  Ignorant, uneducated, liberal idiots."
  • "Islam has been at war with the rest of the world for 1400 years. You need to enlighten yourself. How much more evidence do you need?"
  • "Will you feel this way when you are place under Sharia Law?  You had better read history because it is painfully obvious you are clueless."
Now, I am not sharing this so that you feel sorry for me.  One thing I have come to realize is that I am not an innocent victim--I have dished it out, for which I now publicly repent.  Furthermore, I know people who have had to handle far worse, like:
  • My black friend, professionally dressed, endured a retail store's manager hovering nearby and watching her while she waited for a customer service person to come to the counter and help her, rather than offering to help her himself.
  • This same friend also had a co-worker tell someone else to make sure to bring her purse with her to the bathroom so that no one could steal it and then nodded in her direction.
  • The mixed-race son of a different black friend was helping a next door neighbor in the middle of hard times by volunteering to mow their yard while they worked in the garage.  Another person on the street called the cops and reported the son was engaging in suspicious activity. 
  • A twelve-year old hurled a racial epitaph at my 2nd generation Asian American friend this summer.  He was very surprised when she walked over to him and asked him "Who do you think you are talking to?" and slunk away.
  • The most horrific example I want to share is what one person replied to my comment:  "Look at who has done the shootings and caused terror, Muslims! From 9/11 to the shootings in Orlando. They should be deported back to their land of origin because they are a bunch of filthy, women beaters and killers, child rapists and they will never conform to our ways of living. I carry a pistol with me as do most southern women and if the people in the night club in Orlando had guns, most of those that died would not have done so. We are law biding citizens that carry for our protection and we don't go around killing people. Muslims are full of hate for Americans, look at the killings in Paris, Belgium, Germany and 9/11 and Boston.  Get your head out of the sand and wake up! They all want us dead and the sooner people like you realize this the better off you will be if not, you could be the next person being tortured or getting your head cut off!"
What happened to me is a momentary blip. When you come across occasional derision and hatred, especially over an opinion, it is easy to forgive.  The friends I mentioned deal with this on a regular basis.  I honor and admire them for handling a lifetime of racism and disrespect with courage, equanimity, grace and/or humor.  And I am choosing to stand up  and speak out for them and to stand up for the 91% of Muslims who are not only against ISIS, but also are targeted by ISIS as infidels.

And here is the worst part of the story.  My comment was made on an Evangelical Christian's Facebook page, which means it is likely that the people being hateful and insulting are brothers and sisters in Christ*.  And yet, God calls me to be gracious to them because they, like me, have blind spots.  Furthermore, God has many, many, many passages like Ephesians 4:31-32 calling for me to be kind, compassionate and forgiving because through Christ, God has forgiven me of a multitude of sins. 

And here is the conclusion I must make.  If not wanting to call lone Muslim shooters "Islamic terrorists" until the police have completed their investigation makes me a liberal; if discouraging fear of specific people groups who are being targeted because a small minority of them are waging war on America is being liberal; if bringing to light acts of hatred, fear,  and racism makes me a liberal; if aligning myself and empathizing with my fellow humans beings suffering racism or general hatred makes me a liberal; if thinking that we should be treating everyone with kindness and respect, even in disagreement AND regardless of how they treat me makes me a liberal;  then I am okay with being liberal. And being liberal does not disqualify me as a disciple of Christ.    

* The actual person on whose page I commented never replied to my comment, only his followers. 

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