Goodness me! It’s hard to believe that the last time I posted here was just over two weeks ago. I’ve been busy working on a few things for my friend, which I hope will soon go up on his excellent blogs, Loco’s Patronus and Loco in Yokohama. I’ve also been occupied with preparations to take up a gig in India. It’s been a real roller-coaster getting to this point. I may write about it some time at the other vanity project when I’m in a better place. I still haven’t the mouth with which to tell the tale.
Joel Burns says what needs to be said.
I’m glad that Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project has helped draw attention to bullying, the social costs of homophobia, and the tragedies they can cause. I remember my own school years which, while full of genuinely good experiences, are marred by memories of harassment and humiliation. I know well the kind of despair that gives succour to thoughts of suicide.
Not every kid will be able to get out of unloving or violently hostile environments though. I hope that for them just knowing that there are other people like them, and people who do not think they are an abomination, freaks, or going to hell will be enough to mitigate their circumstances.
I wouldn’t blame anyone for being surprised to learn that I have a degree in conflict resolution, given my strident tone on the Cordoba House/Park51 controversy. I actually happen to agree with Dean that there is a place for dialogue between some of the people now opposed to the project and the project organisers. However I happen to think he’s mistaken when he suggested that another site would be a better idea.
Survivors of 9/11 who now oppose the project need to feel that they have been heard, and I think that an openness on the side of the project organisers to changing the construction site would go a long way towards facilitating constructive dialogue. That being said, the organisers should make it clear that they will yield only to principle, not to pressure. Without a reason like a violation of laws or legitimate traffic/safety concerns, “strong emotional reactions” alone are not sufficient.
Therefore I consider Dean’s suggestion to move the community centre for the sake of demonstrating good will, intention to build bridges, and consideration for the fears and concerns of the people who oppose the centre to be highly problematic.
Once again, the idea that the community centre is offensive makes no sense unless you accept the premise that Muslims in general share in the guilt of individual Muslims who do bad things.
Dean’s suggestion validates that ugly premise, thus privileging the needs and interests of the centre’s opponents; who by Dean’s appeal to emotion would apparently be spared the onus of having to argue from principle. During his interview with Keith Olbermann, Dean waves away any possibility of anti-Muslim bias by invoking “reasonable” and “decent” people. However even the views of nice people are not always free of bigotry.
If you allow opponents to avoid being confronted with the possibility that their position is infused with bigotry (which doesn’t make them evil people) then you lose, in my humble opinion, the real opportunity for a teachable moment – the chance to contemplate your motivations and reassess your position.
Just heard of an incident on the Northern Line involving a run away engineering train. I swear that’s about four or five times something has gone down on the Northern Line in as many weeks! I’m just glad nobody was hurt. The last disruption was a suicide.
I am a man whose present circumstances are causing him to re-evaluate the worth of his sacrifices and accomplishments to date, and to question his belief in the power of hard work and a good education.
It is said that a belief in God provides comfort to the faithful in their times of need. For me, my comfort was a picture of a life with the financial stability to do and buy the things I want, rather than limiting myself to what I need.
Education was to be my path out of poverty and I endured a soul-crushing campaign of bullying at both primary and secondary school, all the while telling myself that I need to play the long game and concentrate on doing well. Success would mean the end of just surviving.
The time I can look back on as having some measure of financial stability I was doing a job that had no prospects for promotion, working in a context where I often felt marginalized, and occasionally having to negotiate my humanity. Each time I question my decision to improve my situation with further education, the bitterness wells up inside me, for I cannot help but notice the irony in my present intermittent feelings of marginalisation.