Some reflections from this past Memorial Day …
Ricky Best, one of the men murdered in Portland, was a combat veteran. He wasn’t in uniform, but he certainly died in combat protecting the lives of fellow Americans. That’s what veterans do, and that’s why we should honor them.
The fact that Mr. Best died combatting a right-wing terrorist who was acting as though the expression of his hatred toward teenagers he thought were Muslims would, somehow, be acceptable to other passengers is even more disturbing. There is no doubt that the rhetoric of the Trump Campaign has communicated permission to express hatred toward Muslim-Americans, even to act on that hatred. When did open expressions of hateful threats become acceptable again in this country? Certainly, the election of President Obama produced a lot of very public hatred. However, that hatred for the most part was indirect such as the whole Birther movement. I think the unapologetic hatred started when Trump announced his intent to run for President (Mexicans are rapists, etc.) and if you ever attended a Trump rally you know what permission to hate is like. It is true that not everyone at a Trump rally would stand with Nazi salutes, call for violence, etc., but there were plenty of those types there and the failure of Trump and everyone else to stop the hatred makes them complicit.
The attack on teens who did nothing to provoke it other than look like Muslims, is only one of hundreds of violent actions and threats in the past year against Americans who are Muslim. However, these attacks somehow seem less threatening than a hypothetical ISIS attack and public discussion of right wing terrorists is almost non-existent. Why? Why would the reality of murder on a public train seem somehow less threatening to us than that of a hypothetical attack from ISIS? The answer is obvious. What is the solution? Love. Love is the only thing that can conquer hatred because love compels us to overcome our fear and act. Love compelled those men to defend those girls. In fact, the dying words to the people around from one of the heroes in the Portland attack, Mr. Namake-Meche was that he loved them.