When I was 21, my father got jumped one fall morning around 6:00. He was walking for exercise when three guys drove up next to him, jumped out of their car, and then started beating him with a pipe. My father had nothing on him except for his house keys, but it didn’t matter. They beat him unconscious and left him bleeding in the middle of what would soon be a busy street.
When my father was conscious again and in the emergency room, he was able to give the police a description of the car and the men, as best he could. It was a blue low rider and three Hispanic men, all wearing chinos and flannel shirts. This description was consistent with that of the man in the emergency room bed on one side of my father as well as the teenage boy in the bed on the other side. The other man was a construction worker who’d been loading up his truck before work when they hit him from behind, and the boy was on his way to marching band practice at school. Of the three, my father got it the worst.
All three victims were white and beaten badly, but nothing was taken from them – no money, not the boy’s instrument, and none of the construction worker’s tools. Despite what you may be thinking, this has nothing to do with the illegal Mexican immigration issue, and it’s not about the heinous act these men committed. It’s about their motivation.
What they did wasn’t for revenge, certainly not in self-defense, and it wasn’t to steal anything. They did it simply because they wanted to and enjoyed it. For me, there are only two explanations for this: they were either sociopaths, or it was done out of hate. I’m certain we can disregard the sociopath explanation.
My father recovered physically, as well as emotionally, although the latter took longer. I, however, went though a period where I was angry at everything. I just couldn’t shake the image of my father’s face – swollen, bruised, bloody, and gashed, as tears of disbelief ran down his cheeks. But worst by far was the emptiness in his eyes.
My father was a strong but peaceful man, with nothing but love and acceptance for everyone in his heart. And yet this happened to him.
For nights, as I lay awake thinking about it, I would play the whole thing over in my mind as he had described it, but to make myself feel better, I envisioned them taking money from him (which he hadn’t had on him at the time, but in my scene he did). I did this because, though it still would have been wrong, at least there would have been a reason for it. But there wasn’t. They just did it because of hate.
Though I wasn’t naïve to hate in the world before this happened, this was a point of disillusionment for me – baptized into a harsh reality with the blood and tears of my dad. I then understood and could recognize real hate.
Today, our country flings the term hate around like throwing rice at a wedding. Even if you have horrible aim, at least a few grains will be true. The other grains miss the target but still fall upon something. However, accusations of hate aren’t grains of rice, yet they’re certainly being flung across the country right now. The KKK endorsed Trump over Clinton, and I’m certain there are other racist, hateful people who voted for him, too. So for those of you who claim that Trump got elected because of the hate in this country, congratulations, you tagged these idiots with a few pieces of rice. But the other grains of accusation in your handfuls are falling inaccurately on the rest of us.
Right now there is much controversy over the news that the developing Trump administration is working to create a system of vetting Muslim immigrants and using a registry to keep track of them while here. Cries of racism toward Muslims have rung out, because this is un-American and singles out a specific group of people, and anything that does that has to be based solely off of hate, right?
This is what the mainstream media tells us and what half the country believes. But before we can classify such an act as hate, we need to step back and look at the motivation.
Had Donald Trump stated that, until a system of vetting could be established, he wanted a ban on Muslims coming into this country. Had this statement come just out of the blue, with zero reasoning other than that Muslims practice a religion different from Christians, Jews, Catholics, or any other religion (or non-religion) in this country, then I would have to agree. In that case, it would be an act of racism or hate.
However, he made this statement on December 7, 2015, just five days after Tashfeen Malik and Sayed Rizwan Farook killed 14 people and seriously injured 22 more in a terrorist attack at a San Bernadino County Department of Health training event and Christmas party.
Malik was born in Pakistan but lived in Saudi Arabia when she met Farook on the Internet. She then came to the US on a “fiancé” visa to marry him. Moments before the San Bernadino attack, Malik posted a comment on Facebook swearing her allegiance to Islamic State (ISIS). The investigation by the Justice Department revealed that Malik had pledged her support to Islamic jihad on Facebook to friends in Pakistan back in 2012 and 2014, before she moved to the US and married Farook. Further investigation into Malik revealed that her application for immigration was not reviewed thoroughly, according to Rep. Bob Goodlatee (R-Va.), who reviewed Malik’s visa application.
The current system of screening immigrants failed to catch the red flags on Malik, and as a result, 14 people lost their lives. This entire incident, however, is overlooked, as people cry hate and racism to Trump’s statements and current actions regarding Muslim immigrants.
Now, not every Muslim is an Islamic extremist, and the majority of the people in this country know that. From what I know of Islam (which isn’t a tremendous amount but probably more than the average American), it is based on a foundation of peace. Of course, some people won’t buy that, but then there are also some people that won’t buy that our country is not flooded with white supremacists, either. But on the whole, I believe the majority of us are reasonable and tolerant with our views of those who are different from us.
Since the San Bernadino attack, there have been numerous terrorist attacks across the globe, with hundreds of innocent people killed, all with the terrorists committing the acts in the name of ISIS. Syrians are fleeing their country to escape the horror of their war-stricken land, seeking safety and security for themselves and their families. And who can blame them? We can’t control when and where we’re born, so those of us born here in the US need to be thankful that we don’t call Syria home.
But amidst those fleeing flocks have been some wool-wearing wolves, as proved to be the case with the four radical Islamic militants who migrated to Europe with the refugees from Syria in October of 2015. Two of those four detonated suicide vests on November 13, 2015 as a part of the coordinated attack in France that claimed 130 lives and left hundreds more wounded.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio claims that the registry idea for Muslim immigrants “doesn’t conform to our American constitutional values or our respect for all religions,” which has been true. However, we are facing an enemy that this country, along with the rest of the world (Muslim countries included), has never seen before. ISIS counts on our standards of kindness and acceptance to exploit them, with one goal – to kill those of us who don’t conform to their beliefs. Now that’s hate.
It’s difficult to look at the images of the tattered and frightened parents and children trying to escape Syria so their families can be safe. I’m a parent, and just the thought of that hurts my heart. But as a parent, my first instinct and primary responsibility is to take care of my family.
My wife and I do not see eye to eye on the Syrian refugee issue. She has an enormous heart, and her instinct is to help people in need. As a father, my instinct is to protect my children above all. Either way, I would not want to be the person responsible for having to turn those desperate families away. But I also wouldn’t want the responsibility of having to look into the faces of the families of the 14 people killed in San Bernadino, knowing I could have kept a person like Tashfeen Malik out of our country but failed to do so. I’m glad I don’t have the weight of this issue on my shoulders.
I’m not going to try to convince you whether a registry for Muslim immigrants is right or wrong, because I can see both sides. But unlike the men who beat my father nearly to death, leaving him bleeding in the middle of a street for no other reason than for hate, the president-elect has legitimate reasons for his actions. You may recognize these reasons and still think the registry is wrong, or you may agree that it’s the right course of action to protect our citizens. But either way, it’s not just because they’re Muslims.
For those of you who are outraged at the election result, protesting and rioting and forming petitions to abandon the electoral college system so we can go back and change the election, your actions can, in large part, be attributed to your lack of knowledge, seeing as you have been fed a constant diet of slanted rhetoric and misinformation by your news sources, professors, and teachers (yes, my fellow educators). However, to dismiss the fact that there is an enemy out there who uses a twisted version of the Islamic faith as a foundation and wants to infiltrate our country to kill us through any means possible, and to attribute Trump’s motivation for developing a stringent vetting and tracking system for Muslim immigrants to just hate . . . well, that’s not ignorance.
That’s just plain stupidity.