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Response to an article

This morning I had a silly little post all cooked up in my head and was going to write it as soon as I had my tea and checked the news. Instead, there is something not-so-silly that I need to write about, just to get it off my chest.
In the Minneapolis Star Tribune today there is an article called "9/11 wrought violence of another kind." It is about a woman named Valarie Kaur, who at 20 years old took a leave from her studies at Stanford to travel across the country and "gather stories inspired by hate crimes and violence against Sikh Americans following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks" (Collins). Her journey included visiting the site of the murder of a Sikh immigrant named Balbir Singh Sodhi. His murderer acted out of revenge for the September 11Th attacks on the United States. The film has already won many awards and recognition world wide and is being screened tonight at Macalester College in St. Paul. A dean from the college said, "[Kaur's] message is to overcome hate while providing hope." (Collins) From what I have just read about the film, I agree with with the dean.
Then, I scrolled down the page and read the comments left by other readers of the article. All eight of the comments left as of 8:30 this morning were bashing the film, Kaur, and Muslims in general. They spoke of Muslims forcing their beliefs on others and practicing a religion of murder. Others said they believed the Muslim victims of the crimes had gotten what they deserved and even, perhaps, deserved more violence. Continuing on, they lashed out at the filmmaker saying that her opinions were that of an elitist on a privileged mission.
The vengeance and hate in these comments made me dizzy. What is the proper response to a group of people who are that angry? I don't know. I do know that it scares me that there is that much animosity bubbling beneath the surface of our every day lives. How will our country ever heal from the tragedy of September 11Th if we continue fighting against each other? Again, I don't know. If eight years later there is still this much conflict, then time does not seem to be a strong enough salve. I don't know the answer. I don't know how we resolve these issues and I didn't start writing about this to figure it out. I just wrote because I had to, to start sorting out my thoughts and to try to calm myself down after reading about all that anger. It makes me want to give someone a hug, bring flowers to a cemetary, say a prayer; something to counteract all that hate with a little gentleness. So, maybe that is where I will start, somewhere small, because I don't have the big answers. I wish I did.

Collins, Terry. "9/11 wrought violence of another kind."
Minneapolis Star Tribune. 15 Sept 2008. Available


Hammie said...

YUP, hate started the whole thing, and it sure isn't going to finish it. Anybody who propagates ignorance about any belief system does so out of fear and a need to influence others to share their fear, to bolster and validate.

I wish there was someway of taking that game you play on the first day of a new class or group activity "learn one new thing about the person next to you and share it with the group" and taking it global. Bit by bit we would find we have more to respect and emulate, rather than fear and reject.

I guess on a personal basis, all we can do is to continue to speak out against intolerance based on ignorance; particularly in face to face situations where our courage will shame those who only ever spread hate online.

And then there will be a few less people in the world who feel hated and misunderstood enough, to want to hurt someone back.

Cal said...

Hammie-- I held back in adding a comment to the discussion on the article because, as you said, it takes more courage to have conversations like that in person and I didn't want to enter into a forum of people spreading hate anonymously.
Thank you for your insights!

El Vato Suave said...

Islam is something that I have spent some time studying and come to the conclusion that it isn't what I believe, not could it ever be. I'm also perplexed about how anyone who takes the time to research it could decide to embrace this religion, but perhaps this says more about me that Islam.

Yet, there is never an excuse for acts of violence against people who don't share your beliefs, skin color, hair color, gender preference, or anything else. I've often found that the people who are most outspoken and rabid are also the people that have the least confidence in what they believe. There's a Spanish saying that can be roughly translated, "He didn't have reason on his side, so he had to resort to force"

Yes, we should have gone into Afgnanistan and cleared out the Taliban, by force if necessary. (We should have done that about 5 years before september 11th happened - and by the way, the're slowly re-conquering Afghanistan and no one seems to notice because we're too busy with Iraq!) Yet acts of violence by people who think they are being riteous is always, entirely, and completely wrong. Do you remember Dr. Thompson saying that something can be wrong in intent, means, or result? This is wrong in all three.

I pray for people who respond to violence with more violence, yet call themselves "Christian." Why? Because when they come face to face with the one whose name they bear so proudly, I think that Christ will ask them to explain what they have done in His name. I pray that He has mercy on them, for I know that I would have a very hard time in His place. I guess I'm lucky that I'm not the Eternal Judge.

Tracy said...

Hi Cal,

My name is Tracy Wells, and I'm the communications director for the documentary film this article is about. I just read the Minneapolis Star Tribune article myself, and just also read through all the angry comments (by now, at 12:50 am, there are 36 mostly angry and bitter comments left on the article). Then I found your blog post. (I have a Google news and blog alert set for our film title and filmmakers' names so I can catch all mentions of the film in the media).

I just wanted to personally greet you and say thank you for taking the time to post this reflection in response to the article, and for your desire to affect positive change and healing in our post-9/11 world. I think most of us who have worked on this film could sympathize with your sentiments in this post - about how on earth we can address this kind of anger and bitterness. I'm not sure we have the answers either, but let me give you a word of encouragement to keep on keepin' on. In whatever small ways, if we do not participate in the spread of fear and hate, at least we are not adding to it. And I think hugging someone or saying a prayer would be a wonderful way to put out some positive energy to counteract all this negativity! :O)

Many blessings to you -

In solidarity,

Tracy J. Wells
Communications Director
Divided We Fall

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