Fox is becoming a very-well-traveled baby; Ruth took them to Copley Square today to the anti-Islamophobia pro-immigration protest, and they did very well, which I was figuring they would after they coped with walking the entire route of the Womens' March with me and sovay last week. I stayed home today because I have a terrible cold which I do not want to spread around, though it is hard not to feel like a traitor to my nation and the cause as a result.
Oh, and though most people reading this probably already knew, this is your reminder that Uber continued driving to/from JFK last night in disregard of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance's protest strike. Uber are scabs, strikebreakers, and kleptocrats; if you have the app, delete it and tell them why.
Anyway, I look at this whole situation, and it makes me remember something.
I grew up in a community filled with refugees.
I was raised a Baha'i, though I am not one now, and the Baha'i Faith was founded in Iran in the mid-nineteenth century. Baha'is have never considered themselves to be an offshoot or sect of Islam, but the local religious and governmental authorities at the time the religion was founded saw it as a heretical sect, and therefore not subject to Islamic teachings on respecting other faiths. The early history of the Baha'is of Iran is filled with massacres, mass imprisonments, stories of judicial torture, and a few outright military skirmishes. How difficult it is to be a Baha'i in Iran has varied depending on the regime in charge, but during the eighties after the Islamic Revolution it got very bad. Baha'is were pushed out of education, out of any skilled profession, and many were, again, imprisoned, tortured, and executed. Many refugees left Iran, some with only the clothes on their backs. I met these people, growing up, both in the small Central Ohio Baha'i community, where some had come to live, and through various conferences, field trips, and so on to other regions.
I grew up with letter-writing campaigns to the U.N., with working campaigns with Amnesty International, with six styles of Persian rice at every potluck. I grew up meeting former doctors and lawyers who were now receptionists and waitstaff in a language not their own. I grew up among teenagers who were fundamentally of a different culture from their parents, among family trees filled with black holes of no data, no idea, and the other holes that came from rejection and the painful loss of treasured ties.
It was never my burden. But I saw it.
And do you know what these people, who had lost their culture, country, possessions, family, education, use of education, home, safety, and security, said to me about Islam, the religion that was continuously cited by their persecutors as the reason for doing all this to them?
They said that Islam, just like their religion, came from God, that Islam was just as valid a spiritual path as their own, and that followers of Islam were members of the human family, to be loved and cherished as family members, full stop.
Eighteen years in that community and I never heard a word of hate. That is the America that I grew up in: refugees engaged in both active resistance to and active forgiveness of their oppressors. That is my America.
Whereas these fools and cowards in this administration, who have never even had to think about walking away from their privileged lives--
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