Posts Tagged ‘United States of America’

I’ve been trying to think of the words to say for hours. I’ve been wondering if I should say anything. I’ve wanted to throw myself into anime or a book or into any form of entertainment, because sometimes the made-up worlds are better than the real one we inhabit. In the end though, I had to say something. I think I knew I was going to the moment I heard what happened today. And I had to let you know, I’m afraid in a way I don’t like to be.

Earlier today, a man named Robert Bowers opened fire at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Three different services for three different congregations were being held that morning, with nearly a hundred people in the synagogue. Eleven people were killed and several more were injured, including four of the police officers who showed up to subdue Bowers, who has made numerous statements on social media about the Jews and “invaders,” aka immigrants and refugees. Tree of Life has been active with organizations that help out immigrants and refugees, including most notably HIAS, which may have played a role in Bowers’s selection of Tree of Life as his target. He has been captured and is awaiting being charged, including federal hate crime charges.

I found out about the shooting this afternoon while out with my cousin, who is here in Columbus for an internship. A friend sent me a link to an article about it. I felt my blood go cold, but I didn’t tell my cousin. I didn’t want to ruin the day for him. I’m sure by now he knows. And he’s probably as scared as me.

This is the second mass shooting in the United States that has been associated with one of the facets of my identity. The last one was when Pulse was shot up in Orlando, Florida, two days after my twenty-third birthday. Pulse was a gay nightclub. Fort-nine people died. I’m bisexual. I wasn’t affected directly, but I was affected.

This was worse. I’ve been Jewish, knew I was Jewish well before I was aware I was bisexual. I feel connected to my religion in so many ways. In college, I studied the Holocaust and have pursued it further since. I’ve noticed the climb in anti-Semitism in the United States over the last two years.

And I knew people from Tree of Life. In high school, my synagogue’s youth group would meet up with other youth groups from throughout the region several times a year to hang out and be Jewish as a group. Tree of Life would sometimes join us.

And before my family moved to Columbus, we considered living in Pittsburgh. We even visited to look at houses and to see what the schools and synagogues were like. I don’t remember what synagogue we were considering joining, but for all I know, it could’ve been Tree of Life. And even if it wasn’t, who knows where I might’ve ended up worshiping later in life. Who knows what might’ve happened if my parents had decided Pittsburgh was a better choice than Columbus?

I’m afraid. I’ve known for a while how anti-Semitism in the US and around the world have been making a comeback. I knew it was real. But it’s no longer that far removed from me. It struck close today.

I’m terrified. But I don’t want to be terrified. And, as happens when I’m scared, I have to fight and conquer what scares me.

We need to do more to stop monsters like this poor excuse for a man. Or more like him will copy him. And many more may die.

The Anti-Defamation League said this was the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in this country, and that it’s “unthinkable that it would happen in the United States of America in this day and age.” I say that it was not only thinkable, but more than likely to happen at some point. And that’s the problem we need to fix.

People are going to offer thoughts and prayers and suggest armed guards to stop this from happening again. The thing is, the people at Tree of Life were thinking and praying. Among our liturgy are prayers to be kept safe from the enemies of our people. And many synagogues already have security in the form of retired or off-duty police officers. And as we saw at the Stoneman Douglas shooting earlier this year, the presence of an armed guard doesn’t always deter a violent man with a gun and a goal in mind.

I’m a big believer in the phrase, “Actions speak louder than words.” I also believe that if you take a step towards a goal, the universe takes a step with you. And I think it’s high-time we treat this chronic disease we’ve been dealing with in the United States for far too long. Very soon, Americans everywhere will have the chance to set the course of our country for the next couple years. I’m asking every American reading this, and all the ones who aren’t, to take advantage of this opportunity to set this course. And to please set a course that involves making the requirements to own a gun as stringent as the ones to drive a car, as well as increased care and research for mental illness, and for higher tolerance for all peoples, not just the Jewish people.

Because in the end, we are all one humanity. Forty-six genes in every cell, five fingers and toes on each limb, same organs and blood that is red and carries oxygen to our cells. And if we can’t make members of our species realize that, what good are we as a whole?

I also encourage you to donate to HIAS and other organizations that try to foster understanding and help those less fortunate than others. Because in the face of hate, the most powerful weapon we have is love. So show love.

Make your voice heard.

Take action.

Because all evil needs to triumph is for good people to do nothing. And we can’t allow that to happen.

Be brave. Fight back against evil. And above all, be safe.

Thanks for listening.

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It’s Saturday, and I’d like to be sleeping in. However, weekends don’t mean I’m slacking off. Or maybe I am, but I don’t consider it slacking off. I’m just working in a way most people don’t see as working. Anyway, welcome back to the Ten Day Book Challenge, brought by my cousin Matthew. Here are the rules:

  • Thank whoever nominated you with big, bold print. If they have a blog, link to the post where you got tagged there.
  • Explain the rules.
  • Post the cover of a book that was influential on you or that you love dearly.
  • Explain why (because I don’t see the point of just posting a picture of a book cover without an explanation. That goes for Facebook as well as blogs).
  • Tag someone else to do the challenge, and let them know they’ve been tagged.

Today’s book is special for me, as it was part of the reason I took up a history and studied the Holocaust in college. Allow me to introduce The Plot Against America by Phillip Roth.

An alternate history story, Roth inserts himself as the childhood narrator in an America where Charles Lindbergh gets elected President of the United States during the rise of Nazi Germany and Hitler. Lindbergh acquiesces to the wishes of the America First crowd and declares America neutral when it comes to events transpiring in Europe. However, moves made by the government under Lindbergh makes Roth’s family and many Jews suspicious that Lindbergh may secretly be a Nazi sympathizer or pawn. And as time goes on, events transpire to make that fear seem very reasonable.

Alternate history is supposed to give us a view of what could’ve happened if a few things were different, and The Plot Against America does just that. While I do find it difficult to believe that Lindbergh was a Nazi sympathizer, it does go to show what could’ve happened if his America First policies did shape America for a few years, as well as if more anti-Semitic practices or ideas were made law. But it also shows what could happen if a young boy in America saw his very people suddenly under threat, at risk by something behind-the-scenes, and how his family reacted to that. It’s not just interesting, but engrossing and makes you think about how only a few minor things could have seriously changed America’s destiny.

From what I hear, a TV miniseries based on the novel is in development under the guy who created the TV show The Wire. Honestly, with the resurgence of neo-Nazis and white supremacists in America, I can’t imagine a better time to adapt this story. Hopefully it gets a good network or streaming service that will ensure it’s seen by a lot of people. And in the meantime, I hope you take the time to check out the book. Believe me, it’s worth a read.

Today, I’m tagging my friend Pat Bertram. Pat, I know you’re busy these days, but I think it’d be cool if you could do this. Good luck if you can!

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll be back later today with a review of The Nun. Until then, I hope you’re enjoying the weekend. I know I plan to.

Yesterday, arguments on four consolidated cases relating to same-sex marriage began in the Supreme Court. The cases mostly have to do with the legality and constitutionality of same-sex bans in certain states, and if states have to recognize same-sex marriages from out of state, that sort of thing. According to the New York Times article I just read, things went about as expected: the justices were divided along the traditional party lines, though Justice Kennedy seemed to show some sympathy towards the couples opposing the ban. Not a bad start, in my opinion. And considering how the Supreme Court ruled in 2013 and the recent tide of marriage victories in states across the country, LGBT advocates have good reason to be hopeful.

If you’ve been with me for a while, you already know that I am openly bisexual (if you’re new here and this is your first time hearing this, surprise!). I also have friends and family who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender, as well as many different straight people. I’ve written an article about how the Bible could actually allow homosexuality rather than demonize it and I wrote a follow up article to that defending my beliefs. And from my perspective on this, these cases are about more than just marriage, though that’s a big part of it. It’s about making people feel equal to everyone else. It’s about acknowledging that LGBT are people, and deserve to be treated as people.

I first started realizing my sexual orientation during the fall semester of 2013, though I’d had inklings of it over the years. You know what the first emotion I felt was upon realizing I was bisexual? Fear. Because even though I knew so many LGBT people, that they and many others are accepted by the general populace, that the country is moving towards being more accepting and that by the time I had kids LGBT people will be fully-accepted members of society.

I was afraid. Because in many places, including places where the LGBT community is strong and loved, there are people who are scared to come out, that there are places where being out or suspected of being LGBT can get you ostracized or even killed, that there are plenty of people who hate me and the LGBT community because of our very existence, maybe even kill us in some cases.

And that scared me. Nobody wants to be hated, to be cursed to death for our existence, We all want to be accepted. But I had to accept myself and eventually I did. And then I came out, and I was loved and supported. But what about other people, those who can’t come out or be themselves because they’re afraid of how the people in their lives will treat them? Where they’re considered less than human, monsters masquerading and mistreating the human body? Why should they be unable to accept who they are?

Now I know that granting a marriage license won’t solve homophobia in America or worldwide overnight. But it’s a good start. Marriage is something that every kid knows about before they grasp the concept of death or where babies come from. It’s one of those things that’s made to be something magical, powerful, a bond that is not easily questioned or taken for granted without consequences. Imagine the good that can do if we as a nation extend that to everyone no matter their genetic predisposition (yes, it’s genetic, they’re finding more and more evidence of that every damn day, and no amount of praying is going to change that, just as no amount of praying is going to turn me into Vin Diesel) towards whom they’re attracted.

And extending marriage to same-sex couples isn’t going to cheapen marriage, or negatively impact heterosexual marriage, or hurt kids. All the research that says it will has been proven false or doesn’t actually exist. Clergy aren’t going to be forced to perform marriages they don’t believe in, because there is always going to be a clergyperson who does want to perform such a ceremony or there’s a courthouse where the marriage can be performed. And traditional marriage won’t be thrown out the window, because traditional marriage isn’t really a thing to begin with. Marriages used to be business deals between the heads of two households, with the creation of a new family as part of the deal. It was only during the late 17th and early 18th centuries that daughters had any say in their spouses, and only much later on that love became a major consideration in marriage arrangements. So marriage as we know it might only be 100 years old or so.

And believe it or not, there have been partnerships in this country between people of the same sex that were considered like marriage or as marriage. Several Native American tribes allowed for same-sex marriages (people attracted that way were considered special in the tribe) and after America was established there were same-sex marriages by their neighbors, including James Buchanan. Yeah, one of our Presidents. Prior to his time in the White House, Buchanan had a ten year partnership with a man named William Rufus King (later Vice President to Franklin Pierce) and in later years wrote to a member of the Roosevelt family about wooing several gentlemen without much success.

With all this, I think it’s important that the Supreme Court make a decision that reflects what I know is true: that just because someone is born a certain way doesn’t mean they are wrong or evil or they need to be changed. They just need to be given the same protections and opportunities as everyone else. In other words, they need to be treated like everyone else. And making that the law of the land with one of the most beautiful bonds one can create between two people is a good way to begin with that.

Thank you for reading.