10 September 2010

Generations

About a century ago, the world watched in horror as what would be called World War I was fought.   About that time, what had been the "German-American Church of Missouri, Illinois and other States" became, "The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod."

I had in grammar school, teachers who had experienced the change.  The change was not for simplicity, it was prompted by the anti-German feelings that arose during the war.  There were other changes, English language services became more common.  In the small Illinois town where I grew up, the custom of ringing the church bells Saturday evening as a call to Sunday worship was abandoned as hateful people claimed the bells were celebrating the sinking of another American ship by German subs.

In 1941 taking an action that will forever stain his memory, Roosevelt gave in to prejudice against loyal American citizens and signed orders creating concentration camps and forcibly moving West Coast Japanese Americans into them.

In the 1950's an otherwise obscure US Senator caused havoc and ruined lives as he crusaded against "the reds."  His willingness to ignore due process crippled legitimate efforts to deal with espionage, and labeled guilty and innocent alike.  "McCarthy-ism" has become a name for unjust political smears.

Now we have discovered Islam.

I am absolutely certain that there are some members of the Islamic communities in this country who are in fact not entirely loyal to America.  Given the treatment we are giving the Sufi in New York, we mainstream white and black folks can take some credit for that.    

Most of these folks however are simply Americans who have made the mistake of being identified by the bigots as "other."  Just as Germans were, Japanese were, union organizers were and Irish were too, they are now "other."  For all the high ethical principals in our Bill of Rights and Constitutional law, we have a large, vocal, ignorant and self-righteous block who do not like "other."

I generally refrain from predictions.  But within the next 25 years we will be again apologizing and we will need to apologize.  The society is permitting itself to express the same bigotry it has in the past.  We have not cured it, we have re-focused it.

I keep seeing this, maybe I have lived too long.  It is the real sin of Sodom, this bigotry and fear of the 'other.' It gives the lie to our principals and hides under "taking back America."  Taking it back for the bigots makes its value doubtful.  It is morally wrong and politically stupid.

FWIW
jimB

2 comments:

Christal said...

You raise an interesting point of how bigotry passes on from generations to generations. The one good thing I see happening in Illinois suburban schools is even in primary grades, students are being taught possitive messages of acceptance of different cultures and beliefs-and that each family is different. There are many other religions that I do not endorse, since I am not of them, but I also respect each person''s right to believe what he or she wants to believe in. I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, but my friend Shifa (Muslim) does not; however, she is one of the most godly people I know, always being good and kind to others in the face of prejudice. It all starts in our homes across America, with the proper message being the following: As Americans we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Jim said...

Christal,

I think the teaching here is good. Unfortunately it is not universal. Were we in some other parts of the country you might find yourself teaching against the schools at home.

FWIW
jimB

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