“Close to crossing that line.” Perhaps…
One of my cousins, “Cousin A”, sharing a brief quote from Hillary Clinton about Islam and Muslims on Facebook after the terror attack in Brussels. The quote expressed Hillary’s support for Muslims. Since the quote was originally posted in an “anti-Hillary” group, the intent of the original poster was obvious: to show that Hillary Clinton was not anti-Muslim. The reason for sharing such a post was equally obvious: “Cousin A” agreed with the idea that Hillary Clinton is not anti-Muslim.
My sister, who usually stays out of political discussions, felt compelled to respond to this particular post. She has relatives who are Muslim. Negative statements and stereotyping of all Muslims has a personal meaning for her. I also have a “relative’ who is Muslim. I use the quotation marks because he and I are not really related, at least not by blood or even marriage. As a matter of fact, I have never met him in person. I only know him via the internet. He refers to me as “Mum” and I often call him either “son” or my “rainbow child” as we are both gay. He lives in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is a sweet, gentle caring young man. I do remember when he told me that he was a Muslim and he was concerned about how I would react. I assured him that he had nothing to worry about because I would always care about him. I do not think of him as often as I should when all Muslims are attacked by political candidates, some news commentators and some radio personalities.
I, too, decided to respond. My response was that rather than making me not want to vote for Hillary Clinton, her words made me even more determined to support her. I do not want and will not vote for a Presidential candidate who vilifies people based on their ethnicity and/or religion.. “Cousin A” made two statements. One was that she was glad to be in a country where we could all disagree. The other is that she would never “give my vote to Hillary Clinton.”
The problem happened when another cousin, “Cousin B” decided to post that she was voting for Donald Trump. Now “Cousin B” had unfriended me on Facebook at least a year ago, if not longer, because she did not like my responses to her posts, which I kept very respectful.
I decided to respond by stating that a vote for Donald Trump is a vote for hatred, bigotry and divisiveness and asking her if that is who she really is and who she really wants to be. That led to a response not from “Cousin B”, but from “Cousin A” who had simply stated she would not vote for Hillary Clinton. “Cousin A” stated that I was merely offering my opinion and “getting close to crossing that line”. “Cousin A” accused me of “name calling” and suggested that I was trying to tell them how they should vote, while they were not telling me how I should vote.
Oh how I wanted to respond. I wanted to say that my opinion was based on fact, on statements Donald Trump has made that cannot be seen in any other way but spewing bigotry and hate. I wanted to write that David Duke supported Donald Trump and said that white supremacists would find people at Mr. Trump’s rallies who think the same way. But I did not respond. I did not apologize either.
“Cousin A” who called me out for what I wrote has not merely unfriended me, but also blocked me, an extreme response I think but one she must have believed was necessary and right. Perhaps I could have phrased the questions differently. Perhaps I could have asked if that was the type of person “Cousin B” wanted to support and the type of person “Cousin B” really wanted to see as President. Perhaps I should not have implied that “Cousin B” was either a racist or bigot or, at the very least, willingly supporting racism and bigotry.
But I stand by my questions.
At what point do we stop being silent? At what point to we stand up and ask the hard questions of our family members, friends and even ourselves?
Do we really support the the views of the candidates we support?
If we do not, then why do we support them?’
graphic via shutterstock.com