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I Will Not Give You the Gift of My Hatred: On Guns Vs. Flowers

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Tough week. The devastation in both Paris and the lesser-noted Beirut was swiftly followed by a flood of racist venom, victim-blaming, fear-mongering, zombie right-wing excess, corporate media propaganda, and sheer stupidity flying so blindly in the face of reason it became as deeply unsettling as the violence that sparked it. Thus did a righteous mindless clamor arise in the land to keep out desperate Syrian refugees victimized by and running from the same evil we suspect them of. Never mind facts, and for God's sake forget compassion: Despite recent data showing that of 68 terror suspects charged in the U.S., none came from Syria, just three were refugees, and most were U.S. citizens, the GOP-controlled House, abetted by 47 Democrats, many local officials and a mob of citizen racists called for closing the doors to our shining land of opportunity.

Rhode Island State Sen. Elaine Morgan (R) didn't want her state to accept Syrian refugees because "the Muslim religion and philosophy is to murder, rape, and decapitate anyone who is a non Muslim,” and if we really need to take in people we should "centralize" them in a camp "to keep them segregated from our populous (sic)." Roanoke Mayor David Bowers urged internment camps like those that worked so well for the Japanese. A Tennessee rep suggested the National Guard block refugees and "gather up" those already here. In an intriguing twist of logic, a Texas rep doesn't want refugees because their state has so damn many guns, which he's spent his career fighting for. And plenty of private patriots took to burning mosques and threatening, beating up, cussing out or ejecting Muslims from airplanes, proclaiming, as did one, "I'm bringing it to you, baby. I'm tired of this shit. Guard your children. Fuck you."

The most high-profile defenders of our nation were our alleged GOP presidential contenders, who outdid themselves. Ben Carson likened Syrian refugees to rabid dogs in a speech that must be seen to be believed. Donald Trump went full-out fascist, proclaiming, “We’re going to have to do things that we never did before," including Constitution-trashing, blatantly discriminatory, once "frankly unthinkable" sorts of things aimed at "learning about the enemy," like closing mosques, increasing surveillance, registering Muslims in a database and possibly requiring them to wear special identification like those nice yellow stars that Jews used to wear. And Marco Rubio bravely went further, urging we shut down not just mosques but any place where Muslims get "inspired," like, say, diners.

So okay. That was the ugly idiocy. Still, there were moments of uncommon grace, as well as courage and virtue and fierce funny defiance. The Muslims who undertook an online #NotInMyName campaign. The many states that refused to indulge in the racist fear-mongering. The Parisians who marked the one-week anniversary by bringing "sound and light" back to their city, and insisting they refuse to live in fear. The quiet online celebration of the soccer stadium guard who prevented more carnage; yes, he was Muslim. The Canadian couple who cancelled their planned big wedding so they could spend the money on sponsoring a Syrian family. The insistence by Bernie Sanders that 10,000 Syrian refugees be welcomed and that turning them away is "not what American stands for." The sly song choice by Willie Nelson insisting, "There's room for everyone in America." The way a Muslim Marine tore Trump a new one by posting his military I.D. and tweeting, "Hey , I'm an American Muslim and I already carry a special ID badge. Where's yours?" The extraordinary, heart-rending message posted by a young husband whose wife was killed at the Bataclan, refusing to give her killers "the gift of my hatred" and proclaiming that he and his young son will continue "insulting you with our happiness." And this father and son. Humanity, onward.

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