- that I am not a true liberal for refusing to endorse hate speech,
- the distance between the outer and inner boundaries of my dermis are quite thin,
- and my experience living within an oppressed culture that is intertwined deeply with religion has no credentials when it is applied to other targeted races and cultures.
I didn't know these things about myself until it was pointed out by several others. In fact, it has come as quite a shock. The resulting emotions are rank with muddled clarity, dissonance and self-loathing.
Actually... that is a lie, the emotions are more like outrage, disgust and a firm resolve to stand my ground. I am sick of being poked in the eye with the bristles of the wide brush of contempt that many on the far-left have towards people of faith. It is no different than the contempt and hatred spewed forth from the far-right toward non-believers.
Neither extreme is correct, in my view, and while I could write a whole screed about the far-right, I am not going to do that now. At the moment, I am burning with rage from the words and images I've read and seen in the past few days from some of my friends on the left.
The bottom line for me is respect of others. I accord every person with divergent views to my own the respect they are entitled, and I deserve to be met with that same respect. Period. I thought that was a liberal ideal, apparently I am mistaken.
To see what is arguably the most offensive of all the cartoons portraying the Prophet Mohammed, that has sparked worldwide rioting and even death, on the frontpage of one of the top 20 most-visited liberal blogs on the internet, one that has been my home base for nearly a year since it launched, was akin to a solid punch to my abdomen. The words that accompanied the image and the resulting comments, however, were enough to ignite a fire in my blood.
I find it offensive that more liberals in that community would rather protect the right to free speech by endorsing and calling for the promulgation of that hateful and racist image than organize a movement to protest the spreading of the hateful and warmongering rhetoric that is implied with its publication.
But no, instead I read frontpaged stories and several hundred comments about slippery slopes, the need for conformity to Western worldviews, and the implication that the targets of the hateful image deserved it since their way of practicing their religious views is oppressive; tradition and culture be damned. "Why should I feel compassion when they're killing and burning buildings? It's just a cartoon? Grow up!"
The few dissenters, myself included, were mocked and denounced, as was expected. But I have to be honest, when I say that I expected better from a community that has been tireless in its efforts to stop the Bush Regime from destroying the world. That image, and all that it stands for will only serve to ramp up the xenophobia that the West has towards human beings of the Muslim culture and religious practice.
To be clear, I am not under the impression that an online community's membership should or can have the ability to always agree. That's impossible. But there should always be respect, and little to none was shown in the various exchanges.
What bothers me so much, is the fact that even at this very moment, there are liberals who would rather see that image on the frontpage rather than try to understand why it is so offensive. I don't get it, and I feel like we are all talking past one another.
My reality today is that I no longer feel valued or understood in that place. AND I AM NOT EVEN MUSLIM. It feels as though a litmus test has been applied that would make me choose to endorse the publication of hate speech.
I choose not to take that test.
I would rather work to denounce xenophobic propaganda, and the rhetoric it implies, than exert the energy to make sure every set of eyes on this earth has seen it to prove a point that the First Amendment of the United States is valued. As I told someone yesterday, you are welcome to disagree with me, but that is how I feel.
I expected better yesterday. Perhaps I expected too much.
As with everything, there is a context. I recommend taking the time to read the following threads. A warning, some of them have a couple hundred responses: