Machetes, Mean Speech and Genocide

By September 11, 2018 Uncategorized
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My machete slices through the weeds, the stems bleeding milk, a plant toxic to my horses. When I shopped for one, blades three times as large as a kitchen knife, one edge serrated like a saw, creeped me out. The opening credits to Hotel Rwanda flickered through my thoughts. —“The Tutsi rebels, they are cockroaches…we will squash the infestation”–Machetes, the weapon neighbors used against neighbors. When I hear people calling President Trump’s supporters, fascists, Nazi’s, Russian bots, I hear language that justifies violence.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in Not in God’s Name says “pathological dualism sees humanity as radically…divided into the unimpeachably good and the irredeemably bad. (51).He cites the steps to genocide. “Pathological dualism does three things. It makes you dehumanize and demonize your enemies. It leads you to see yourself as the victim. And it allows you to commit altruistic evil, killing in the name of the God of life, hating in the name of the God of love, and practicing cruelty in the name of the God of compassion” (54).

            We are sliding quickly towards committing altruistic evil, thinking we are cleansing society of the Nazi, the white supremacist, the people who voted for Trump. We need to back out of our righteous hatred. We need to know people are more than their politics and find common ground—as Americans, as people living in bodies that share the same pains and joys. If we don’t, I fear the machetes will flash, the bullets will fly, burying themselves in fellow American’s bodies.  

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I’m Katie Andraski. That’s my perspective.

If you’d like to hear me read this, click here.

We found these chicken eggs along our fence row. There’s something humble about chickens, who train us to feed them when they are hungry and who are mostly limited to walking on the ground, when they have wings. I want to leave us with the hope that eggs signify because I think we can stop ourselves by checking our anger and name calling. 

Oh and one more thing. Here’s why I think there’s hope. On Sunday when Bruce and I were driving to an outing with our bicycles, and I was buried in my phone, I heard a horn tooting. A man in a big pick up signaled for me to roll down my window. He called out, “You lost your bicycle wheel. It’s on the otherwise of the tollway bridge by the mail box.” I thanked him, thinking how horrible it would have been if we’d arrived at The Sweet Ride without a wheel on Bruce’s bike. We turned around and drove back. I found it lying in the weeds, undamaged, like these eggs

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  • Kristi Stone says:

    I’m with you, Katie. It’s disgusting what we have allowed our precious selves to sink into, and so gross because we’ve been through this stuff before (remember the Jews? and so many others in history). Thanks for speaking out against this growing attitude of justified hatred, and for reminding us that people still have some good in them. <3

    • katiewilda says:

      Thank you for your wise comment. Justified hatred towards anyone, bad language towards anyone, is not a good thing. It’s verbal abuse. We need to police ourselves and be kind. There are stories about people reaching out to the likes of the KKK and changing their minds. Now that is important and daring work.

  • ems rixon says:

    This is really interesting – I feel like this has been on my mind a lot lately because I’m currently in Berlin and it seems to be a big issue here. Hearing the rhetoric of people who claim to be anti-fascist but who use fascist methods to force people into agreeing with them has made me re-think how I think and talk about people who hold different views to me. I may not ever agree with or like what they think, but they are people, products of their environment and education, and fighting hate with hate will never work. It might take longer, and it might be harder, but love is the only way to change the world. Thanks for a great read!

    • katiewilda says:

      I’m seeing that too–the anti-fascist people using fascist methods to force people into agreeing with them. Eboo Patel said that while there are diverse races and ethnicities on campuses there also needs to be diverse thought. (He started a a center that helps people of different faith traditions come together on campus.) I wonder if it’s an important work to ask people to consider other views. I so agree that love is the only way to change the world. Thank you so much for commenting.

  • Wilma C. Guzman says:

    I would like to encourage you – that if you want to build bridges between people – you should be not confining your criticism to one side. You spoke out against people being called Nazis who are loyal to Trump, but silent when all people of certain nations i.e. Mexicans, people of Arab nations all being labeled with one label: terrorists, drug dealers, rapists. Mexicans are the indigenous people of many of the southern States. Inequality of pay and opportunities is at the root of the migration of people looking for work (and American agriculture and other sectors are dependent on them). The drug trade is fueled by inequality. On CBC radio, I heard recently of a Sikh man who felt he had to stay out of the public fearing to go to work the two weeks following 9/11 for all the nasty racist comments and dirty looks he got – he got into cartooning to deal with his feelings and later donned a “Captain America” costume. Are you including all the people you consider Americans – those of Latin American, Sikh, Syrian backgrounds? It is important to keep communication lines open to determine what common ground can be found, and exactly what are people being loyal to and what they are willing to accept because of this loyalty.

    People should attack the ideas, statements that are erroneous and not just accept when inaccurate statements are continuously voiced by leaders or some media outlets. (Be very discerning when a leader speaks out against all media outlets.) In Ontario, Canada this is as important to be as diligent in protesting of Doug Ford’s ideas.

    A German book: “Small Stones from the River” – writes of the small things the German people of a town later looked back at and realized they should have spoken up earlier in the first, middle and later stages of the war. What are all the small things we are willing to accept against people who don’t look like us or agree with us that escalate from harsh words into real actions of intimidation and acts of hatred and violence?
    During war (and other times) it is not always easy to determine who are the collaborators, who are the resisters and many were labeled as traitors who were not. Another book recommendation “the Alice Network” illustrates this.

    • katiewilda says:

      Thank you for your comments. It’s always good to hear your voice. You bring up a very valid point about calling both sides to task, something I did in an earlier WNIJ perspective. It is very true that we need to keep communication lines open. And that both sides need to be held accountable for mean language. Yes.

      I too am very troubled by what’s happening with immigrants in this country. I just wonder where people were when Obama was deporting people. I remember hearing a report about this on NPR. He built a good length of wall on the southern border as well. People tired of our open borders. Even Mexico has closed borders and severe penalties if you go in illegally. Congress needs to work together to fix it. (Obama could have fixed it when he had the majority in Congress but he didn’t.) We need a fair way for people to become citizens and for people to work here legally. There also needs to be a fair way for DACA people to become citizens.

      At any rate, I very much appreciate your gentle and respectful response to my perspective. Your support of this blog means a great deal. The peace of the Lord be with you always.

      But from where I’m sitting, and what I’ve experienced, I believe that the Left is happy to repress people who don’t agree with their perspective. I have felt that silencing and a real need to keep quiet about what I think. Dennis Prager refers to how conservatives feel like they are silenced by the culture at large, because a person’s job can be at stake. I went through terrible times in my job, I believe because of my social conservatism and faith. Here’s the link:
      conservatives-in-america-like-marranos-in-medieval-spain/It’s well documented that American campuses might be diverse ethnically but they are not diverse as far as political views. Students protest when Jewish commentator Ben Shapiro speaks on campus.

      I’m not sure I’m building a bridge in this piece but offering an opinion of how I see things as a conservative. As far as Trump’s outrageous statements, I agree, they are beyond the pale and obnoxious. But I just read an interesting opinion piece in the National Review, a publication that grounds me because I don’t feel so alone in thinking what I think. I remember the mean comments and memes about the Republican candidates long before President Trump came on scene. I remember the hatred for President Reagan. Here’s the piece:

      As far as President Trump’s comments about the “fake media.” He may complain but the media has not been shut down. In fact he’s been far more present to journalist’s questions than Obama. Obama on the other hand did go after journalists. That is well documented. Ever since I was young I remember being aware of the anti conservative bias of the media.

      To my mind, the real danger to our Republic is coming from the Left, not the right and maybe that perspective is important to put forward.

  • Wilma C. Guzman says:

    I don’t believe we can divide the world, individuals in groups completely on the left or completely on the right. Every individual has a variety of opinions that are all over the scale – left/centre/ right. Extremes of harmful words, actions and beliefs are on both sides and can come out in times of economic uncertainty and increasing inequality.

    China is a communist country. I read on the cover of the book: The Dreamseller: The Calling – about a man about befriending a number of down and out people(Brazilian -) – a Christian book – I was surprised to read it won the Chinese foreign book award in 2009.
    Naron Gebresellassi – a Toronto Mayor candidate advocated for free public transit for all – one would consider as a left of centre opinion. Then I read in Calgary, Alberta (has been associated with Conservative voting) has been practicing this already – during its off-peak hours allowing all to use it for free. Accessible public transit is a necessity and it is good to hear of the variety of ways small towns and other cities are doing this i.e. Belleville, Ontario – has an evening bus utilizing UBER like practices – changing routes according to individual’s traveling needs. Many public issues and needs are beyond defining as left or right issues, rather should be about balancing the needs of all sectors of society.

    I personally have voted for all 3 parties in the Canadian system in my life – Conservative, Liberals, NDP. People vote at times in favoring their local candidate who they appreciate, even when they don’t like the leader at the head of the organization. Or because of revulsion of the leader, switch from a long held devotion to one party, to other parties. Others are voting precisely for a party because they believe they hold the closest views on a variety of issues to their own. Many have mixed feelings because of allegiance to a variety of participants ideas.

    What is the biggest threat to democracy is the increasing apathy of voters. To think of all the struggles to gain the vote for women, blacks and others denied in the past to have their say in voting. What are all the factors that are leading to disempowerment – that people who generally don’t like others deciding for them, are choosing not to vote and then have leaders doing things they don’t agree with? Democracy should be about continually including more people – especially disenfranchised people’s needs. The numbers and percentage of voters (of those eligible to do so) should be growing with each election. (Our Ontario election was shamefully participated in by only 56% of eligible voters, 44% chose to not participate.)

    • katiewilda says:

      I am listening to a video by Ben Sasse, a Senator from Nebraska, where he makes a similar point that we need to stop being so tribal, we need to be more empathetic. We all have confirmation bias. I very much admire what you wrote here and that thought you put into your comment. That is amazing that those towns have worked on a fair public transit system, that works for the people. Serving the people does transcend left or right. I also agree that people are apathetic, that we need to vote. I just found out we have a third choice here in Illinois for governor. The two candidates from the two parties aren’t so good, so I’ll see about the third candidate, maybe vote for him. I also think we all need more education in civics. People are woefully ignorant of how government runs.

      At any rate, thank you for your thoughtful response, for making me think about this stuff, and for listening to me without walking away. I try to keep my political opinions close.

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