When Racism Rears Its Ugly Head

 This is not a travel information blog but instead about several of the people from the United States that I met when I was in Puerto Penasco, Mexico.  They call this area Phoenix’ beach. I felt sad and discouraged and realized how sheltered I am in Toronto by friends and my family and our “radical left wing ideas”.  I have witnessed so much ignorance and so much prejudice here that it shocked me. I also have to add that I have an abundance of radical and awesome friends from the USA.

I met a couple and the husband asked me, ” why do people hate the Jews.  I just don’t understand it.”  The wife agreed and said – “it’s just a religion right?  We don’t hate Jews and we like you.  We like all people.  We’re not prejudice” -(note my secret eye roll here).  I replied that there is hatred everywhere and the American president is allowing it to escalate with his rhetoric.  Husband nervously glanced at his wife.  I said I worried a lot about Islamophobia.   He said that he totally understood being afraid of Muslims and anyone who believed in the Koran.  I said the Koran is a wonderful book and told them that Mohammed the Prophet said that “heaven is under the Mother’s feet”.  I said that unfortunately, men over the centuries have bastardized religion and weakened the role of women.  I knew this whole conversation was fruitless but I felt better just saying it. On top of it, they were both many beers in and not worthy of my time.  Then they told me they were very worried about the caravan and how it would affect them.  Goddess help me – where is the sense of humanity?

The things I heard repeatedly:

  • why should I work so that others can stay home?
  • I hate paying taxes. 
  • People are getting free money from the government and driving fancy cars, wearing expensive clothes -I saw them on television protesting that their cheques would be late.
  • The government builds them houses. 
  • Natives shouldn’t get assistance now – that problem happened years ago.
  • I heard complaints about people hanging out in front of the grocery stores offering to buy your groceries with their food stamps in order to get half the value in cash.  When I hear how no one wants to work,  everyone is lazy, no one is competent, it make my heart hurt.

I suppose there are always people abusing the system but why is that the only thing they see?  Why is the story I know about people dying from lack of health care, families living in cars, in tent cities, children going to school hungry.  I have never heard about this apparently generous welfare system in America that they are talking about.

On Facebook so many of my “friends” are speaking out about Anti-semitism.  It is definitely there and the escalation is frightening.  However, I can’t help but wonder where were our voices as we see this hatred for the blacks and the browns, for the Muslims, for the Indigenous?????????????

Remember the poem by by the German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984).

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

I was invited to join a group of Jewish clergy at the border between USA and Mexico but the logistics didn’t work out.  I wish that I had.  My Judaism is based on Tikkum Olam – Healing the world.  One of the core commandments of Judaism is “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18), sometimes called the Great Commandment

I am proud to be a Canadian.  I am proud to be known as a radical left wing activist.

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