Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas stories

My 7th grade Art teacher taught more than Art. The last day before Christmas break, Mr. Armand Mednick would gather the students around and tell us the stories of how his father smuggled him out of Belgium as a child concealed in a suitcase, or when his father burned his birth certificate in front of him, to hide his Jewish heritage from the SS. He told us tales of concentration camps and the people who suffered at the hands of the Nazis. He often wore long sleeves to cover up his serial number tattoo. I only recall seeing it once. He had to roll up his sleeves while we were working with clay on a pottery wheel. At the time I wasn't sure if he was ashamed or embarrassed about the numbers. He didn't like to talk about them. Looking back, I might theorize he didn't want to give them more weight or importance in his life. I would go so far as to say he treated them like a mole, something to be mostly ignored. At that young age I could understand what he endured, but the 'why' didn't fully sink in for a few years.
So when people talk about rounding up Muslims, deporting or even outright killing them, I'm reminded of that last time certain people were rounded up because of their race or religion.

Japanese interment camps. Concentration camps. Gas chambers.
Because that really worked out well the last time.

Here's a thought: Allowing fear to control your mouth and trigger finger only serves to incite more fear and violence. A self-fulfilling prophecy. You want to turn frightened people into terrorists? Continue on this destructive path and you will have more bombings and riots than you know what to do with.

There is a solution. Welcome these refugees. Treat them with compassion and they will respond in kind. Oh, but there are secret agents, terrorists in with the refugees! "They'll take our wimmun an our guuunnss!"
Just what I expect from an angry, scared fear monger. Get a grip on yourselves.
Now, are you listening? Let's say for a moment you're right. There is a Daesh terrorist (who's just as scared and prejudiced as you are.) ready to cause destruction.
Fortunately they are just as smart as the allegedly educated loudmouths over here in 'Murica.
Here's how they did it back in WWII. There was a problem of what to do with the captured Nazi soldiers in the closing days of the war. The answer was genius as it solved several problems. 
Problem: There was a man power shortage in the work force. 
Solution: Put them to work. Treat them fairly. Show the men a better way of providing a life. Many of the prisoners didn't want to go home after the war.
When anti-German sentiment was at an all time high, they took prisoners of war and turned them. Yep. More than a few went native. Don't believe me? Here's one story. Here's another
I encourage you to read those two links all the way to the end. There were rough patches, but in the end, the benefits outweighed the costs.
Now, you can keep on spouting the hate and war mongering, we all know where that leads, or you can choose to take the high road and show everyone what it means to be American. 
I'm not so naive to believe that there aren't any anti-American sentiments in any refugees. But I know the way to beat Daesh is to not play into their hands. They want a war. They have a death wish. Killing is easy, but it's also permanent. Once you start, you can't go back.
Dial that fear back and show people what true courage looks like. 

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