“Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Two of my friends on Facebook posted about “un-friending” people who “liked” Mr. Romney. Each time I wrote this:
“This makes me sad; I welcome differences in my life. I want to be open to the conversation of people who hold views different from mine. This is what I think peace and being an American is all about.”
Now let me am clear: I disagree with Mr. Romney on almost every view he holds. Also, as a lesbian I do not have the luxury to not care about his sincere interest in disallowing my right and any other gay person’s 1,100 rights – which is the number of federal benefits to married couples in these United States. I will not vote for him. However, I love some people who will vote for him. I want to be able to have conversations where we agree to disagree. It is hard, because equal rights for me are not a small thing. It’s everything.
However, I have been advocating for open-mindedness – a willingness to have conversations with those I disagree with. Then on Monday, Ms. Ann Coulter tweeted, “I highly approve of Romney's decision to be kind and gentle to the retard,” referring to Romney’s behavior toward Obama during Monday's foreign policy debate in Florida. Coulter’s message was retweeted by 3,350 as of Wednesday, and received nearly 1,400 favorites.
That makes me want to lie down and weep.
Ms. Coulter can disagree with President Obama all she wants – but it is this language that is so wrong and oppressive that is devastating to me.
The argument against her tweet is best done by Special Olympics global messenger, Mr. John Franklin Stephens, a man living with Down syndrome, responded to Ms. Coulter for her use of “the R-word as an insult,” in an open letter posted on the Special Olympics blog:
I do not think I could add one thing about the word she chose to use that Mr. Stephens has not very beautifully said himself.
What is so sad about Ms. Coulter‘s statement is a statement delivering oppression.
“Oppression is customarily experienced as a consequence of, and expressed in, the form of a prevailing, if unconscious, assumption that the given target is in some way inferior.”
Inferior. Ms. Coulter to make her point that she is “against” Mr. Obama uses a word that is used to oppress the developmentally disabled. A word that suggests that there is only one way to be “okay” in the world.
Look, I am not unbiased here. This is a blog, not a news article. I think it is wrong that the discussion is rendered in these words, these beliefs that do nothing accept keep someone outside of the privileged “norms” to feel they have no place in this America. It would be funny if it wasn’t tragic. Because the United States of America was formed on freedoms to be who we are. It was not to be a freedom to harm.
I love politics. I even won the quiz in “Political Junkie.” I learned to love politics from my parents who were on two different sides of the debate. However, there wasn’t name calling when they talked, there was discourse. Conversation: a willingness to try to understand someone else view.
I am a deep believer in the power of non-violence. I do not honk or yell or give the finger when someone cuts me off while driving. I do not yell at anyone. I prefer to assume “good motives” of others and I believe in peaceful dialogs. Look at how smart Mr. Stephens is: he knows that it is often kindness not hate, anger or ego that allows for understanding. He signs his letter – in friendship. I would be honored to be this man’s – who understands peace so well – friend. All people have a right to their ideas: I simply do not understand why tearing down other people is considered a view. To me, that is bullying.
Anyone can be a bully. And how bullying happens we know isn’t so much the power of the bully: it is in the power of those who watch and laugh or do nothing. That is why this part: “Coulter’s message was re-tweeted by 3,350 as of Wednesday, and received nearly 1,400 favorites” bothers me so much. Because people thought that word of oppression, harm was worth giving attention.
In schools they are asking kids instead of being a “bystander,” in when they see a bully saying harmful things, to be an “upstanding person” and stand up when someone is trying to tear someone down. So, while a part of me, in my humanness, wants to shame Ms. Coulter – that would not be the answer. If I use other words to oppress like the “B” word, well, I’d be doing what I disagree with. Instead, I want to stand up and encourage her (in my tiny blog in Rhode Island that she may never read) to respond to Mr. Stephen’s invitation and learn more about the cruelty of the word she used.
For my part, I will love my friends who support Mr. Romney even if I disagree with their views in this election. What I won’t do is talk about the candidate, or Ms. Coulter, with violent words. Instead, I invite us all to discuss the issues but not character assassination of people. I believe most folks are doing the best they can. Most folks want love, security and happiness for themselves and their families. I want that too for me, for my family – because I believe in a country where everybody belongs and everyone matters.
Even if we disagree, in fact especially if we disagree, that is a democracy – many views, many ways. Right?